Motherwild is an unvarnished journey, a celebration and depiction of struggles to survive on a sometimes violent, sometimes loving, always alive, Montreal working-class street. Set over the course of a year beginning in December 1959, Joey Cantell is trying to figure out his relationship with his mother. Joey’s personal confusion with her has continued to grow from infancy to adolescence. The rest of the family occasionally present their own challenges, but it was Joey’s “Ma” who exasperated him with her quick wit, strong will, and her drinking.
Then there was Celine Lesage, a girl living downstairs in the apartment block who reminded him of his mother as Celine too was a puzzle that drove him mad but attracted him like no one else.
Most of Joey’s relationships flow from his connection to Celine and his mother, and most of his experience comes from studying their ways. But a pervasive melancholy overrides certain days as Joey struggles with thoughts of what his mother might do to herself or what he might do to her. He even contemplates using the gun he found on slippery Dion Street during a winter bank robbery to silence this mother confusion. Tension builds. Can Joey trust himself not to carry out his violent plan? What can he do to intervene and break the craziness his mother feels? Will his fantasies of Celine ever become reality? What will then become of him? Then an incredible event occurs that will change him for the rest of his life.
Motherwild is a tense drama about the growth to maturity and a teen son’s desperate relationship with his mother, but it is also the story of a working-class family and the social conditions of working-class life in the 1960s.
- Long-Shortlisted for the 2015 ReLit Award: Novel
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