ordinary miracles by Diana Aspin (Red Deer), 167 pages, $12.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
ordinary miracles is no ordinary book. Bound by a common thread that spans 90 years, this collection of 13 stories spins a golden web of teenage Canadiana. The opening tale, The Home Boy, introduces us to Arthur Pinner, a London waif handed over to an orphanage by his poverty-stricken mother. The institution promptly ships him and his mates off to "a better life" in Canada. The adventure begins when Arthur runs away during a snowstorm and meets a mysterious young girl from the future. Saved from the blizzard, he begins his life anew in Sky Falls, a small rural town.
Aspin spins the miracle of Arthur's rescue into 12 more stories, each containing fragile characters whose lives teeter from the magical to the mundane. The teenage characters, all friends attending the same high school, share their thoughts and dreams in compelling narratives.
Themes of loss, grief and mourning permeate the book without turning maudlin. The promise of youth, the brevity of life and the depths of love and sorrow gently twine the stories together.
Aspin explores intimate issues in The Art Of Embalming, the story of Clive Pinner's painfully sweet journey of self-discovery. Clive has fallen in love with his openly gay classmate and is torn between embracing his true self or the safety of conformity.
Aspin captures the teenage voice so perfectly that you'll feel like a young resident of Sky Falls. The characters in these emotionally charged and uplifting stories will linger long after you have put down the book.