When Dan walks almost mythically out of a forest fire area and collapses at the feet of fourteen-year-old Matti Iverly, he reverses the journey countless adolescent males make every year into the wildfire we call mental illness.
Matti’s life is not easy. She has Tourette’s, a bio-neurological condition characterized among other things by involuntary spasms or tics. In her case these tics are primarily vocal. Early in the book she confides, “At school they called me Tourette’s Girl, like I came out of a phone booth wearing a costume and made funny noises for people’s entertainment. But I was a serious person, waiting for a serious purpose.”
When a young man with amnesia wanders out of the heart of wildfire country and collapses at her feet, Matti believes she’s found that purpose — in fact she promises to save his life. But the world Dan comes from is far darker than Matti’s, and the price of keeping her promise greater than she could have imagined.
“Linden brings many combustibles to this story that blazes with creativity: magic realism . . . mountain country mythology . . . survival stories . . . even some kindling from Dante. But what burns brightest is the voice of Matti, a teenager with Tourette’s syndrome — true, and funny, and heart-breaking — as she describes what happens when a young man with amnesia wanders into her life.” — Glen Huser, 2003 Governor General gold medallist for Stitches
“The dramatic sleight-of-hand twists and turns in this richly peopled novel will have readers pondering the enigma of identity — how to define it, and even, perhaps, when to renounce it. Dianne Linden’s shimmering, edgy writing never takes normal for granted.” — Holley Rubinsky, author of South of Elfrida, 2013
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