Halfway to Schist
Opal Ethelred Rogers, known to all as Red, narrates this coming-of-age story set in the 1950s. Having lost her mother to suicide at a young age, her father, a geology professor, eventually decides to head up north to Canada to refurbish an old fishing lodge once owned by his uncle. Their first summer on the island is full of hard work, discoveries, youthful adventures, and tragedies that lead to a loss of innocence that stays with Red for the rest of her life. Luckily, just before heading north to Canada, she found a diary left behind by her mother that was meant to help guide her along the path of life, something Red would come to appreciate over time.
Halfway to Schist is a lovely novel that brought back a nostalgic feeling of lazy summers full of fun and discovery. I loved Red. She was such a spunky girl who wasn’t afraid to be herself while learning to navigate the social niceties of the time. Peter Bridgford provided excellent descriptions of Red and all the other characters and especially the landscapes associated with the Georgian Bay Islands. Sometimes I felt like I was paddling behind Albert, Isadore, and Walter as they made their way to Hearts Content Island.
I also loved how the story developed to show the tensions and animosities between the wealthy American guests at the Shawanaga Hotel and the locals, all the while creating twists and turns, which made this an exciting read. I liked that Mrs. Roger’s notebook had such a significant presence within the story. On one level, the reader is able to learn a lot about nature and geology and how human relations can be seen through the same prism. At the same time, the reader can also trace Red’s progression along the lines suggested by her mother and see how she deals with the choices she must make to live her life. Toward the end, the book gives us a good look into her mother’s past and why she chose to end her life so early.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully layered story. I’m so glad that it ended with Red, as an older woman, relaying what happened to all her friends and acquaintances from that fateful summer. I felt that it all came full circle as she thought back about everything that happened during that time. Finally, I’m also so glad I’ve discovered a talented author I might have otherwise missed and whose work I hope to read more of in the future.
|Page Count||264 pages|
|Publisher||Black Rose Writing|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|