At first, I wasn't so sure. Not sure about the story, not sure about the characters, not sure about anything. And then I was. Sure about it all. About how much I loved Hattie and Thebes and Logan and all the crazy characters they meet on the way. About Min and her tenuous grip on reality. About the road trip and the broken down van and the desperate journey Hattie takes before truly finding out who she is and why she's doing what she's doing.
Miriam Toews writes in an almost Beat-like fashion in this novel while obviously putting her own touches on it and ending up with a truly original road book in The Flying Troutmans. To say anymore would be to give something away. I don't even want to link to the cover copy because I think it's better not to know anything other than the fact that Miriam Toews is one hell of a writer before cracking the spine. Trust me.
But I will say this: the whole book reads like a road trip. Strange and kind of uncomfortable at first then after so many kilometres it finds its own rhythm. Places whiz by and your mind goes off on a trip of its own. And it's all good. Things always happen on the road. Things you don't expect. People you don't think you're going to meet. Places you have no expectations about seeing. And despite the circumstances behind Hattie's road trip (she takes off with Logan, her 15-year-old nephew, and Thebes, her 11-year-old niece, after her sister's admission to the psych ward), it's a good experience. That doesn't mean it's not hard or bittersweet or painful or funny or difficult or gut-wrenching or sad or blissful or any number of adjectives. It means that the end result is satisfying.
And the ending. Well, the ending truly rocks. And right now I wish there was a Thebes in my life making me a huge novelty cheque.
READING CHALLENGES: The Flying Troutmans is part of my "For the Ladies" version of this year's Canadian Book Challenge. I'm pretty sure I'm at #4 now. Only 8 more books to go!