24 Jan 2009 – LibraryThing Early Reviewers’ Programme

A marvellous book.  Hattie has always felt responsibile for her older sister Min and her mental health, believing that she knocked it off balance by having the temerity to be born.  So when she gets a call, dumped and alone in Paris, to come and help her only surviving relatives, she jumps on a plan, heads to Canada and reaquaints herself with her niece and nephew, all the while musing over their childhood and their own.  Eventually, Hattie and the (beautifully drawn) Thebes and Logan embark on a road trip right through the United States, trying to heal a few wounds, getting a few more on the way, and looking for the kids’ father, Cherkis the artist.

Toews’ first novel was set in a strict religious community but had something of the same wry narrative voice.  Here she has found her wings and really does let the Troutmans fly, weaving their back stories, current struggles and futures seamlessly in a narrative that compels you to read on and on as they drive on and on.  The deadpan narration, full of little details and great humour, is reminiscent of Douglas Coupland, and I would recommend this to Coupland fans.  Central characters to care about, unconventional aunts and little girls full of mad knowledge, and their centre, the out-of-focus, hospitalised Min – a noteworthy and memorable book that I loved.