It’s always exciting to read a debut novel from a promising new author, especially when that author is a fellow Canuck! After reading Gillian Cummings’ YA novel Somewhere In Blue, I will be following her career very closely.
Set in Toronto’s “The Beach” neighbourhood (or “The Beaches,” depending on who you’re talking to), Somewhere in Blue is a story about mothers and daughters. Sandy is still not over the shock of losing her father suddenly to cancer, but her mother Vivian, seems to have moved on and is pushing her daughter to do so, as well. Sandy’s best friend Lennie can’t see eye-to-eye with her bar-hopping mother, a failed country music hopeful who is looking for love in all the wrong places. Lennie struggles to confront her mother, in desperate need of her friend, Sandy, who is slipping deeper and deeper “into blue,” unless someone- maybe the cute boy next door?- can help her find the way out.
Cummings writing is smooth and meditative. This is a novel about the spaces between people, the silences in conversations, and the objects around us that hold our stories. There isn’t alot of action, but Cummings makes up for this with authentic dialogue and insightful observation. The relationships are strained, but for the most part, believable. In many ways the mothers in this book have a lot to learn from their daughters. I appreciate it when a writer tackles hard situations or brutal truths with honesty, which is something Cummings does very well. I found myself wishing the novel was a bit longer, and I also wanted more resolution, but overall I felt like I was in the capable hands of a skilled writer.
What’s fresh about Cummings’ approach is that she lets us into the heads of not only Sandy and Lennie, but their mothers, too. Overall, I enjoyed this widening of perspective. Often in YA novels the author is so firmly in the head of their young protagonist we lose sight of other perspectives, especially those of the adults. I am curious to see how teens react to this.
Want to hear more? Check out another great review at Quill.
Somewhere in Blue is available now from Lobster Press.