What Love Cannot Do is a full-length novel that addresses the emotional and psychological fallout for those left behind after a suicide. The story follows fourteen-year-old Carrie as she approaches the second anniversary of her mother’s death. When a young man to whom she’s attracted rescues her at a party where she’s been roofied, she becomes emotionally attached to him. When it is clear that his affections lie elsewhere, she in turn attempts to rescue a homeless First Nations girl by stealing her father’s credit card and taking the girl back to her remote home reserve. On this journey into one of Canada’s most shameful secrets, the mistreatment and isolation of its First Nations peoples, she learns about the different faces of suicide and its many causes. The hopelessness of the youth on the reserve that drives them to suicide and her own mother’s suicide from mental illness are recognized as different but similar stops on the spectrum of despair. Although the protagonist is 14/15 years old the book is geared toward adult readers. Touching on contemporary issues not just in Canada, but universally, What Love Cannot Do is a journey for readers of all ages.
What the Living Do, an 80,000 word literary novel, is about thirty-nine-year-old Brett Catlin who, having lost her father and young sister in a fire when she was eleven, attempts to toughen her defences against the pain of loss in part by taking a job scraping roadkill from county roads. In equal measure, she longs for but fears and resists the idea of ‘home’.
Brett discovers that she has cervical cancer for which the only treatment is a hysterectomy. This diagnosis brings her an odd relief, payback for the deaths of her sister and father for which she has always felt responsible. As she struggles between the pull to detach from a loving relationship with a younger man and the push to have the surgery and be cared for, she discovers that she is once again pregnant.
This novel explores the ways in which our attempts to avoid intense emotional pain only complicate and increase it. The story also deals with a particular form of childhood sexual abuse, one in which the perpetrator elicits pleasure and love from his victim, thereby muddying sexual and emotional clarity in adulthood. What the Living Do also raises the moral question of bringing children into a world perceived as damaged and hopeless.
In Touched, ~ the body reveals what the mind conceals, a 70,000-word memoir, a thirty-four-year-old woman travels to India believing that she will simply learn the art of Rebalancing massage to one day replace her unsatisfactory job as a maître d’ in a Toronto restaurant. However, through this unique approach to bodywork she not only finds a new way to make a living, but she also discovers what the body knows and remembers, but the mind has suppressed.
The tagline of the training is “Learn how to touch and be touched, deeply.” As with all courses in the unconventional Indian ashram where the training is offered, Rebalancing is a therapy whose approach insists on bringing traditional healing techniques together with dynamic meditations.
Through deep-tissue touch and various intense body-awareness exercises, Deepam experiences powerful emotional responses. As a result, childhood, teenage, and romantic memories surface. She comes to realize how much her young history of disregarded traumas, injuries and illnesses has affected her bead on life.
Deepam does learn to touch and be touched, deeply, and in the process, achieves a clearer sense of the woman behind her cheerful mask.
Readers who enjoyed the honesty of Cheryl Strayed’s writing in Wild will appreciate the style and vulnerability of Touched. Unlike Eat, Pray, Love, Touched delves deeply into the psychological underpinnings of failed intimacy.
“Second Coming”, excerpted from Touched, was a runner-up in the Canadian Authors’ Association’s Erotic Prose Contest.
THE COST OF WEATHER
Simon Rendler is an expert at judging the distance from a lightning strike, but not so skilled at gauging the proximity of personal danger. Emerging from a childhood marked by the sudden disappearance of his teenage sister, Rachel, and the impenetrable silence of German immigrant parents, Simon tracks storm systems, sets a course for a career in Meteorology and falls in love with the tempestuous Beth.
When the thrill of being with Beth costs more than he can afford and Simon prepares to leave Beth for a remote posting as research assistant, they discover that she is pregnant.
This trusting and hopeful father tangles in the cord that binds him to his young daughter, Sophia, as his attempts to maintain contact are sabotaged by Beth’s elaborate and puzzling tactics. By the time Sophia is six years old, she has grown bitter and confused.
Through challenges presented by several women – including the revelations of the wry and wise Rachel; Marla, his straight-talking coworker; Katie, Simon’s sympathetic and provocative love interest; and ultimately, his damaged daughter, Sophia – Simon comes to understand both the punitive and redemptive natures of love.
The Cost of Weather is about the vagaries of the human heart and the choices it makes when the answers to its questions are tough.