In no particular order, here are the ten books written by Alberta authors that our five champions must choose from for the 2021 Airdrie Reads competition. It was difficult to narrow it down to only ten!
Tomorrow by Merilyn Ruth Liddell
A misguided experiment. A devastated world. A chance for rebirth.
In a world decimated by a killer virus, an isolated mountain community is left more dysfunctional than dystopian.
Small town. Big secrets. A place where…
neighbors still look out for neighbors, a feisty senior sasses the man who controls the town, a doctor finds a unique use for local bullies.
and the lives of three strangers unexpectedly intertwine…
Martha, a reclusive doctor seeking a solution to the mystery of the pandemic, Jake, a cab driver seeking his birth mother, Sophie, a young, desperate pregnant woman seeking safe haven from abuse. Brought together by violence, these unlikely friends forge an alliance that may help reshape the world.
The Dilettantes by Michael Hingston
The Peak: a university student newspaper with a hard-hitting mix of inflammatory editorials, hastily thrown-together comics and reviews, and a news section run the only way self-taught journalists know how sloppily.
Alex and Tracy are two of The Peak’s editors, staring down graduation and struggling to keep the paper relevant to an increasingly indifferent student body. But trouble looms large when a big-money free daily comes to the west-coast campus, threatening to swallow what remains of their readership whole.
It’ll take the scoop of a lifetime to save their beloved campus rag. An exposé about the mysterious filmed-on-campus viral video? Some good old-fashioned libel? Or what about that fallen Hollywood star, the one who’s just announced he’s returning to Simon Fraser University to finish his degree?
With savage wit, intoxicating energy, and a fine-tuned ear for the absurd, Michael Hingston drags the campus novel, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.
The Figgs by Ali Bryan
Meet the Figgs. June, the family’s matriarch, looks forward to a quiet retirement if only she can get her three adult children to finally, finally, move out of the house. But her dreams are shattered when her son Derek unexpectedly becomes a single father. Now there’s a newborn baby at home, and Derek’s older siblings are showing no sign of going anywhere either. In the midst of the chaos, June’s husband, Randy, has a shocking revelation.
With family life flying fast and furious around her, June finds herself thinking about her parents? adoptive and biological. Where did she come from? Will her new grandson be traumatized without his mother? And why in the world are all the kids still at home, anyway?
The Figgs combines the quirkiness of Miriam Toews, the startling humour and fierce energy of Heather O’Neill, the heart of Little Miss Sunshine, and the unruly family dynamics of Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You into one hilarious, immensely fun novel.
Watershed by Doreen Vanderstoop
It is 2058, and the glaciers are gone. A catastrophic drought has hit the prairies. Willa Van Bruggen is desperately trying to keep her family goat farm afloat, hoping against hope that the new water pipeline arrives before the bill collectors do.
Willa’s son, Daniel, goes to work for the pipeline corporation instead of returning to help the family business. When Daniel reveals long-concealed secrets about his grandfather’s death, Willa’s world truly shatters. She’s losing everything she values most: her farm, her son, her understanding of the past — and even her grip on reality itself. Vividly illustrating the human cost of climate change, Watershed is a page-turner of a novel about forgiveness, adaptation, and family bonds.
Rough by Robin van Eck
“When the river jumps the banks, eating the city’s downtown core as it goes, one man, homeless by choice, is forced to confront his past in order to save those he cares about. Visually rich and intense, Robin van Eck’s debut novel provides a deep reflection on humanity- An eye-opening, haunting, and unforgettable read.” Fran Kimmel, author of No Good Asking.
It is 2013 and Calgary’s Bow river is beginning to rise. Two homeless men stand by the bank and contemplate the death of another friend-an accident?
Taking cover downtown that night, Shermeto intervenes in the attack on a bar patron, and finds himself laid up in the hospital. Outside, as the city reels from an unthinkable disaster, Shermeto finds himself away from the swelling river and face-to-face with the part of a past he is trying to hide from: his daughter Kendra.
Flying the Nest by Joy Norstrom
Lonely millennial Chad MacEwan can’t seem to get it together. While his boomer Uncle Martin sails through his twilight years with a full social calendar, Chad’s weekly highpoint is dutifully visiting Martin at the Eldernest Assisted Living Lodge. Maybe his uncle’s magnetism and way with the ladies will rub off on him, or perhaps Chad will one day gain enough courage to strike up conversation with the woman who works in the cafeteria.
It’s not only Chad who struggles with loneliness and self-doubt; the Eldernest is teeming with residents searching for belonging. There’s the animal lover who owes her spot at the affluent Eldernest to a government subsidy, and the resident who finds himself back in the closet due to the close-minded confines of communal living. Then there’s the love triangle with Martin firmly ensconced in the centre position. Or is he really?
As Chad becomes further entangled in the lives of Eldernest residents and staff, each person must decide how much to risk in their pursuit of companionship and connection. Flying the Nest is a heartfelt examination of our assumptions on aging and sexuality, the strength of family, and the enduring power of community.
In Veritas by C.J. Lavigne
“Things that are and are not, she thinks, and the dog is a snake.“
In this fantastic and fantastical debut, C.J. Lavigne concocts a wondrous realm overlaying a city that brims with civic workers and pigeons. Led by her synesthesia, Verity Richards discovers a hidden world inside an old Ottawa theatre. Within the timeworn walls live people who should not exist–people whose very survival is threatened by science, technology, and natural law. Verity must submerge herself in this impossible reality to help save the last traces of their broken community. Her guides: a magician, his shadow-dog, a dying angel, and a knife-edged woman who is more than half ghost.
With great empathy and imagination, In Veritas explores the nature of truth and the complexities of human communication.
Caught in the Pot by Hogan Short
Caught in the Pot is about a young man falling desperately in love, just as he begins to develop an addiction to opioids, and what lies and truths are worth living and loving through.
Kane is a wandering twenty-something, tattooing his way from town to town, looking for a place he can call home—but what is home? Kane arrives in Sachem, a quaint fishing town on the Atlantic Ocean, where he meets and falls for the charming Tilly. When Kane finds work on a high paying lobster boat, Tilly becomes worried—the dangerous and demanding work has led to tragedies of all kinds.
Caught in the Pot is a beautifully tragic novel by author Hogan Short. If you like sweet contemporary romances—and the power and failure of the human condition—then you’ll love this contained story of love, forgiveness, and the ways in which we hope and struggle to find our own way…and each other.
The Hill by Ali Bryan
In the near future, a group of girls survive by their own wits and follow the laws of the Manual on the Hill, a reclaimed garbage dump they call home. The cardinal rule? Men and boys spell danger.
After a Departure Ceremony releases the eleven oldest girls back to the Mainland, Wren becomes their new leader, and she’s desperate to do a good job. So when one of the girls goes missing only a few hours into her new position, Wren makes the fateful decision to leave the Hill in search of the girl—only to encounter boys for the first time in her life. Is it a coincidence, then, that the Hill is attacked while she’s gone?
In order to survive and lead her community, Wren must sort fact from fiction, ally from enemy, and opportunity from threat. The Hill is a feminist dystopian novel that explores gender, power, and the search for truth in a world defined by scarcity, distrust, and gender politics. Gritty and compassionate, Bryan’s unforgettable novel shines a light on the consequences of consumerism and environmental neglect while reminding us what it takes to be a girl in this world.
Are You Ready to be Lucky? By Rosemary Nixon
Are You Ready to Be Lucky? If so, meet Roslyn, a spirited divorcée eager for new beginnings. Meet Duncan, a British conman with a penchant for collecting ex-wives. Meet Floyd, a hard-living contractor who can fix anyone’s house but his own. Irritating, vulnerable, hopeful, they ricochet off one another, trailing a mess of family and friends, all of them trying to beat the odds and find happiness. With razor-sharp wit, Rosemary Nixon takes on the chaos and absurdity of friendship, marriage, divorce, and betrayal and the heart-pounding, breathtaking, always astonishing complexities of luck and love.