Jared, a fledgling pot-dealing high school student, has a life as consistent as that of a family living in tornado alley. When not whipping up a batch of weed cookies, Jared stumbles from party to party floating through life like an astronaut untethered from the space station. With his dog Baby Killer, the one constant in his life having passed, Jared struggles to make sense of the frayed relationships he has with family and friends all the while putting up an apathetic front lined with sarcasm.
Eden Robinson’s novel is bursting with characters both young and old as she tells a coming-of-age story for Jared, a teen seemingly thrust into maturity a hell of a lot faster than should be expected. Although he’s floundering in many aspects of his life, Jared feels an obligation to support his ailing father, helping out his aging neighbors and at times acting as the parent to his mess of a mother.
I had a tough time getting into this story to begin with but once I hit the halfway point, I got a feel for the atmosphere and the story Robinson was trying to tell. I liked the banter back and forth between Jared and his peers and the dialogue Robinson wrote for Jared had me laughing out loud at times. That said, I still wasn’t able to settle comfortably on the relationship between Jared and his mother; it felt forced and kind of like if Lorelai and Rory Gilmore talked about all the sex Lorelai was having while Lorelai and Luke aggressively made out in front of her. It’s OK if it was a one-off (is it though?), but it kept happening over and over again and it became tiresome and weird.
Then, about three quarters of the way through, the story takes a drastic shift and my interest completely fell off a cliff. I was really getting behind the budding romance between Jared and Sarah. However, when Robinson goes full-on fantasy, the narrative transformation completely lost me and never grabbed me back. I didn’t even want to finish this one but why read an over three hundred page book if you’re going to skip out on the last sixty pages.
I realize I’m in the minority here as this book is critically acclaimed and definitely has an audience. To date, it has been nominated and won its fair share of awards but this just wasn’t for me. I liked Eden Robinson’s writing enough to check out her other work, I just didn’t feel like this was very good.