I’ve just finished Never Going Back, by Antonia Banyard, and it’s SPECTACULAR! Just so it’s on record, before she wins a bunch of big prizes and no longer talks to the little people, Toni and I used to be roomates.* And we used to work at Whitecap Books together. And I sniffled at her kitchen table after my boyfriend dumped me.**
Back to the novel. Which is SPECTACULAR! Never Going Back*** is the story of five people from Nelson who meet back in town for the memorial of a friend/cousin who died shortly after their high school graduation. The reunion forces each of them to confront both memories and present living situations.
That makes it sound a bit staid. What Toni has really succeeded in doing:
1. She has created five completely distict, in some cases wonderfully eccentric, characters — people I would love to know in real life. (I particularly like the pothead/physics prodigy.)
2. She has created a world that is completely the Kootenays, and yet exotic at the same time. (There are people who live in a root cellar.)
3. She has created a story so encompassing that within the first five pages, I forgot I was reading a book by someone I knew. (Toni who?)
I read the whole thing in 24 hours.
* I was a terrible roommate who never did any housework and hung my underwear over the stair railing to dry. Thankfully, there are no cameo appearances by bad roomates within the pages of this novel.
** That would have been Min, suffering from a temporary bout of poor decision-making skills.
*** It’s really good. You should get a copy.