RUSH HOME ROAD by Lori Lansens (Knopf), 547 pages, $34.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
small-town ontario is evoked like never before in the epic -- and sometimes soapy -- Rush Home Road. Mixed-race six-year-old Sharly, born in a trailer park outside Chatham, gets more or less dumped by her mum on 70-year-old Addy Shadd's doorstep.
Connecting with the child casts Addy back to her own past, and through a series of flashbacks we hear her heartbreaking story and the story of Rusholme, a (fictional) town settled by American slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
OK, Rush Home Road is a bit of a suds-fest. There's more family trauma going on than in a month of movies-of-the-week, and one too many coincidences by the end. But sometimes a careening narrative is just fine, thanks.
Lansens writes easily and vividly, and the result is a compulsive page-turner that keeps on chugging while shedding light on a part of Canadian history that's not chronicled nearly enough.
Another good book from Knopf's New Face Of Fiction crop.
SUSAN G. COLE