Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where We Have to Go by Lauren Kirshner

4 Star

When we first meet Lucy, she’s an imaginative eleven-year-old dreaming of a taste of freedom — and only beginning to grasp that all is not well between her parents. In the years that follow, Lucy’s journey to adulthood will see her question the limits of unconditional love, grow “criminally thin” as she stops eating, and discover complicated truths about what it means to be a young woman. Through it all, the central figure in Lucy’s life remains her mother, Joy, whose larger-than-life stories and boisterous voice belie a deep disappointment. As their relationship is tested again and again, Lucy comes to understand the resilience of the bonds that tie us to the ones we love.

Lydia - 4 Star

Where We Have to Go is a thoroughly enjoyable coming of age tale full of quirky characters, humour and angst. This story shines a light on some of the darker realities of a faultering marriage from a child's perspective and the long lasting effects of such a tumultuous upbringing. This novel could have been much more grim but Kirshner handles the fine line between humour and somber so deftly that the serious issues never come across as being made light of, which is a testament to her writing and something I greatly appreciated.

Anyone who had ever felt self conscious as a child or teen, or felt themselves odd or quirky or an outsider or had ever held their hands over their ears to ease parental bickering will be able to relate to this novel. Lucy Bloom is a wonderful protagonist. She's so cute and quirky and sad that you can't help but be empathetic towards her and as I watched her life grew more complicated as she navigates her teens, I found myself cringing and wanting to scream at her and everyone around her. And then on the next page I would find myself chortling or with a grin on my face. It was so well written in this aspect that I loved the constant anticipation of what emotion I would feel next.

As an only child, Lucy is left to navigate her parent's marriage through infidelity, separation and reuniting. There is much in this novel that is heartbreaking, but I always felt undercurrents of hope. I continuously rooted for Lucy and her family all the way through this novel and wanted to shake her parents to keep their issues from her and to actually see what she was going through. I could never figure out where Lucy would end up in life and I loved that.

Having grown up through the 70's, 80's and 90's, I loved the feeling of nostalgia Where do we go From Here brought. Along with all the childhood memories were many Canadianisms and Toronto references, which is always a bonus for me with any novel.

Where We Have to Go was a fabulous debut novel and I will definitely read another by Lauren Kirshner.

Thank you to McClelland and Stewart for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Lauren Kirshner here:

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