Full disclosure: Fran Kimmel is a good friend of mine. Luckily, I know she also writes amazing books too, so I was more than delighted to review her latest book No Good Asking. Her first novel The Shore Girl is sort of a cult classic in these parts, I’ve come across many people who list it as one of their favourite books of all time, and although I haven’t read it yet, I hope to when I get my TBR under control.
This is a book best read in the winter. It takes place over a snowy week between Christmas and New Year’s on a rural property prone to getting winter storms. We begin with a retired RCMP officer, Eric, offering a ride to a young girl Hannah who he spots on the side of the highway, under-dressed for the sub-zero temperatures of that time of year. We discover she is living across the road from him, and because of her difficult situation at home, Eric’s family takes her in for a week while a foster family is lined up. Eric’s family is also struggling; although they seem normal on the outside, mental illness is taking a toll on each person, in their own way. Hannah’s presence is an abrupt change in their day-to-day lives, but her efforts to please her temporary family come with consequences for everyone involved.
The fact that Hannah has a positive impact on this complicated family didn’t come as much surprise, in fact I found it quite predictable. However, the strength of this novel is not the plotline, it’s the people that populate it. The quiet, subtle descriptions of family life are most compelling, and will ring true to anyone who’s ever lived with/as a family (i.e. most of us!). I began reading this book during the freak early-October snowstorm we had in Calgary, which stirred up the most delightful feeling of coziness, and short of drinking a Tim Hortons coffee while doing it, it couldn’t have felt more “Canadian”. I mean this as a compliment, because reading this book felt like getting a big warm hug, and I think it’s descriptions of our connection to landscape and weather will ring true with many Canadians living in rural areas (i.e. many of us!).
The characterization is one of the strongest elements of this book; Ellie, the mother suffering from a desire to be perfect and depression from frequent miscarriages; Sammy, the ‘on-the-spectrum’ five-year-old who balks at any sort of change in his routine; Walter, the grumpy grandfather suffering from dementia, and Daniel, the teenage son who’s grounded for smashing up a truck getting to a girl who takes advantage of him – all have rich inner lives that we get to experience through alternating first-person perspectives. Their problems are common yet we care so much about them, as mundane as their issues may be. Kimmel deftly creates a world that is easy to relate to, yet insular all at the same time.
This is the perfect book to read in that lull between Christmas and New Year’s, just like in the book. Put your slippered feet up, make yourself a hot chocolate, and indulge in No Good Asking, you won’t be disappointed!
Fran has another book out?! I absolutely LOVED The Shore Girl. This makes me so happy 🙂 Thanks for the heads up, Anne!
She sure does!!!!! Enjoy 🙂
Anne, thanks for this! I’m so glad you liked it!
girl you know it!
Sounds like a great read! Ah, I fell in love with Tim Hortons when I visited Canada – do they still do those things – hmm! can’t remember what they called them – but they were supposed to be the bits taken out of doughnuts to make the holes. Timbits!! Were they called timbits?? My aunt would buy a big box of them every time we set off on a sight-seeing trip… 😀
They’re totally Timbits. Although I’m not Canadian, I’m northern U.S., which means Tim Hortons has crept just over the border. I haven’t had a Timbit in over 4 years!
Girl-get yourself a timbit!!!
I don’t live near a Tim Horton’s right now! They are up in Michigan. I’m now in Indiana. I just realized the only reason I know when I ate my last Timbit is because I gave one to my grandpa and then a couple days later he died. No bad feelings about Timbits, I’m just 200 miles away from the closest one.
Aw, that’s a sad story, but I’m glad he enjoyed one last bit of deliciousness before he passed 🙂 Next time you are up north (ha!) you should definitely swing by, us Canadians are always happy to spread the love
I just discovered they’ve opened a place in Glasgow!! Donuts could be the thing that finally bring about world peace and harmony amongst nations…
😂 chocolate donuts
Definitely! Time for a road trip…
you better believe we do! Timbits are pretty Canadian aren’t they? We love our donuts here 🙂
Does it make you a little nervous, reading a book by a friend? I’m always afraid, even if I’ve enjoyed others of theirs, that this one will totally miss the mark. And, then, awkward! 🙂
Oh it makes me super nervous! In fact, I decline in most cases because I’m worried I won’t like it. But, in this case, I knew i would like it, and I did!
I still fully intend to read The Shore Girl, but this might appeal to me even more!
I think you’d really like it Naomi!
This doesn’t sound wonderful, just the kind of rich, textured family story I usually enjoy. Reading your review made me feel cozy!
Perfect! That’s what I was going for, and I’m assuming what Fran was going for too!