An exquisite middle-grade novel by the award-winning Jill MacLean
Fifteen-year-old Nix Humbolt doesn't talk much. He's barely outgrown his "Fatty Humbolt" days, and although he is taller and leaner now, he has learned it is best to keep a low profile. He dreams about his only friend's girl, but of course she is hopelessly out of his league. Lonely and introverted, he is happiest in his father's woodworking shop, where he builds exquisite boxes and tables. The only battles Nix fights are on his Xbox - until the day he finds the guts to fight for Swiff Dunphy's neglected dog. Then there is Roxy, Nix's spirited older sister who always knows just how to get what she wants. But the guy she wants is seriously toxic, and even Nix can see that she is headed for disaster. All Nix can do is cover for her when she breaks curfew or comes home drunk. But this time Roxy is about to spiral out of control and change all their lives forever. And there is nothing he can do to stop it.
"Well-crafted and intense, an engrossing family drama in which both young and old learn what it means to grow up."—Kirkus Reviews
About the author
Shortly after the publication of her 2003 poetry collection, The Brevity of Red (2003), Jill MacLean‘s nine-year-old grandson Stuart asked her to write him a book with hockey and Skidoos in it. The result was The Nine Lives of Travis Keating (2008) which won the 2009 Ann Connor Brimer Award, was shortlisted for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children, 2010 Hackmatack, Silver Birch and Diamond Willow Awards, and was a KIND Children’s Honorable Mention Book for the Humane Society of the United States. Its 2009 sequel, The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy, won the 2010 Ann Connor Brimer Award. Both books are set in Newfoundland, where Jill’s family lived for eighteen years.Jill now makes her home in Nova Scotia, which is the setting for her third novel. Always an avid reader, she is delighted to rediscover the world of children’s literature. In her free time she gardens, canoes and hikes.
- Short-listed, Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award
- Short-listed, Snow Willow Award, Saskatchewan
- Commended, Ontario Library Association Young Adult Best Bets
- Commended, Bank Street Best books of the Year for Children and Young Adults
- Unknown, White Ravens selection
- Winner, Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
- Short-listed, White Pine Fiction Award, Ontario Library Association
- Short-listed, Publishers Weekly Best New Books Selection
- Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
- Short-listed, Resource Links Year's Best Selection
YAs who are drawn to contemporary fiction and verse novels won't want to miss this . . .
As Nix struggles to find his voice, MacLean soothes us with the gorgeousness of her writing, the spare but perfect free verse of this unforgettable gem.
Open Book Toronto
Readers used to a diet of cliché-ridden YA fiction will enjoy this refreshing take on the teenage plight . . . [T]he hard-won hopefulness of Nix's growth will linger with them long after the poetry ends.
School Library Journal
[MacLean's] writing is strong and fluid but laced with vulnerability.
CanLit for LittleCanadians
The story is complex and engaging, and the deep themes make this an excellent novel for study and discussion
Canadian Children's Book News
. . . a well-paced story that will leave readers thoroughly engaged with the characters.
The Montreal Gazette
The novel's strength comes from the authenticity of Nix's emotional evolution . . . This is an absorbing, emotionally resonant book.
Quill & Quire
. . . an exceptional novel that is not to be missed.
Winnipeg Free Press
This meticulously-crafted novel-in-verse is as finely-honed as one of Nix's own woodworking projects . . . While Nix struggles to find his voice, MacLean's impeccable poetry - spare, evocative, and affecting - enables readers to enter into his mind and heart. And they will be amply rewarded by the experience.
Atlantic Books Today
Well-crafted and intense, an engrossing family drama in which both young and old learn what it means to grow up.
Writing with careful, evocative language, MacLean explores love in myriad forms.
[A] sensitive story . . . Beautifully descriptive . . .
The Calgary Herald
MacLean has produced another wonderful novel. She is to be applauded for respecting her readership and refusing to shy away from difficult topics . . . **Highly Recommended.**
. . . a story about a young man finding out who he really is. A strong book.
CBC summer Book Panel