August 1915. Montreal is stifled by a heat wave while war rages in Europe. The three Desrosiers sisters Tititte, Teena, and Maria had been planning a whole week of vacation in the mountains, to do nothing but gossip, laugh, drink, and overeat while basking in the sun. Maria had decided to leave her children, Nana and Théo, in Montreal, in the care of a neighbour who gives her a hand when she needs it. Now Maria’s children come roaring into the kitchen, pink with pleasure, begging to come too. I keep telling you, Momma, we’ll be as quiet as little mice,” Nana assures her. We’ll hardly take up any room. You won’t even know we’re there.”
Reluctantly, Maria takes her children along on the week-long trip to the Laurentians. As the reader views the journey through young Nana’s eyes, we come to understand the impoverished circumstances they leave behind in Montreal, only to find poverty ever more present in the country. Yet here it is surrounded by mountains, reflected in a lovely lake, and the blue sky gives them a moment of respite. It feels good to get out of town, and Tremblay’s writing remains so vivid that the reader imagines dipping into cool lake water along with the family. Encounters with rural relatives crystallize young Nana’s true feelings for her mother, as confidences and family secrets fuse day into night.
This third novel in Tremblay’s Desrosiers Diaspora series bursts with life as Nana, the young city girl, explores the natural world and the enchanted forest of her inner, maturing self. The novel also further develops the character of Maria so that we understand her motivations more fully, and at the same time recognize nods to the history of Quebec and the dynamics of the family under the strictures of the Catholic church.
“In this novel, Tremblay not only gives his fans the background they crave on their beloved Plateau characters, he also sets the groundwork for understanding that the world and the people in it are Janus-like. Good and bad, French and English, country and city, moral and immoral, brave and scared, everything is all rolled up into this thing called life.” – The Globe and Mail
“In this brilliantly constructed, coming-of-age novel Nana learns and guesses a lot of things about each of the characters she encounters. By the end of her journey, she is not the same: she is not an adult, she is not a teenager, but she has learned things about life that she had never suspected existed.” – Voir
"Tremblay once again beautifully and skillfully depicts the nuances and overlaps between urban and rural experiences, the weight of intergenerational struggles, and the sometimes tricky negotiations between the yearnings of the individual and those of family"