First Fiction Fridays: The Company of Crows

May 6, 2016

Thirteen-year-old Veronica speaks like the characters in the Victorian novels she finds absorbing, she has awful new glasses and feels out of sync with the world, especially when she has to spend the summer at Laughing Willows Trailer Park with her two obnoxious younger brothers and her unhappy mother.

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What:

The Company of Crows (Linda Leith Publishing, 2016)

Who:

Karen Molson is a distinguished biographer and a former independent bestseller. The author of The Molsons: Their Lives and Times, and Hartland de Montarville Molson: Man of Honour, she is a direct descendent of John Molson. She lives near Vankleek Hill, Ontario, and likes to spend time studying and photographing birds.

Why you need to read this book:

Thirteen-year-old Veronica speaks like the characters in the Victorian novels she finds absorbing, she has awful new glasses and feels out of sync with the world, especially when she has to spend the summer at Laughing Willows Trailer Park with her two obnoxious younger brothers and her unhappy mother.

Sure enough, she’s lonely and bored until the crows in the park attract her attention, and soon she meets Grace, who lives in a neighbouring trailer with her mother. Grace is kind to Veronica, and she’s also unsteady. The extent of her emotional difficulties emerging slowly until she’s faced with a series of crises when Veronica is sexually assaulted. The girl survives the assault and is smitten by her new friend, seventeen-year-old Charlotte. The two girls make a plan to chase Veronica’s assailant out of Laughing Willows, and for this they enlist the help of Veronica’s brothers. They get unexpected help, too, from the crows—who have been keeping an eye on the human denizens of the trailer park—and especially from Grace, who has confused Veronica’s assailant with the brother who’s been trying to track her and her mother down.

Grace’s kindness is bottomless, and her confusion is both poignant and alarming. The resolution is surprisingly happy, with the reader cheering as she and her mother burst out of Happy Willows in a successful bid to keep a step ahead of their family. The Company of Crows is a deft portrait of mental and emotional fragility, and Grace is a memorable figure presented with warmth, quiet humour, and compassion.

As Christine Fischer Guy has written, this is “a tender coming-of-age story and a sympathetic portrait of mental illness that reminds us how life’s disorder can open on to unexpected joy.”

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Thank you to Linda Leith Publishing for sharing this new book that touches on a topic we should be discussing more.


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