Larkin on the Shore

Red Deer. Feb. 2020. 312p. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780889955776.
Gr 8 Up–In this emotional novel, a young woman faces the fallout of her rape accusation against a popular boy. The evening ended with an intoxicated Larkin jumping out of the boy’s moving car, and she is left with depression and physical bruises. Larkin’s mother is addicted to opioids, and her father thinks it best that she spend the summer at her paternal grandmother’s along the sea coast of Nova Scotia. Larkin struggles with self-control around alcohol and has frequent anxiety and panic attacks, but she refuses prescription treatment for her depression. Even the sight of books makes her cry, as they remind her of her mother, a former librarian. As the summer progresses, Larkin makes new friends and enemies. Her journey of self-discovery includes the revelations that her past will always be with her, that people will gossip no matter how decent the object of the gossip is, and that love often happens in unexpected places. Readers outside Nova Scotia may struggle with some colloquialisms and be confused by regional business names. It should be noted that the opening scene involves Larkin contemplating suicide in detail, which may be difficult for some readers.
VERDICT Beautifully written, with vivid imagery of the Nova Scotia shore, this is a truly moving story of finding oneself after trauma, akin to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Francisco X. Stork’s The Memory of Light, and Maria Padian’s Wrecked.

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