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Young Adult Fiction Water Sports

When You Least Expect It

by (author) Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Water Sports
Recommended Age
12 to 17
Recommended Grade
7 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Seventeen-year-old Holly Callahan desperately wants to make the national rowing team so she can compete overseas, but she is the last rower cut. Her summer dreams are shattered, and she finds herself back at home, living with her mother's annoying new boyfriend, Super Stew.

Holly's not a quitter. She lands a summer job, and then is handed an unexpected lifeline in the person of a man who offers to coach her in a single rowing boat. For a girl raised without a father, the coach's generosity — and rigorous demands — are a gift. But where did he come from and who is he, really?

Discovering the answer plunges her into sadness — but then he inspires her to work beyond her comfort zone.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson's compelling account of a teen athlete's life-changing summer will keep readers riveted until the last page is turned.

About the author


LORNA SCHULTZ NICHOLSON a grandi à St. Catharines, en Ontario. Enfant, elle aimait lire, écrire et jouer à plusieurs sports. Elle a joué en tant que défenseure dans une équipe de hockey féminine et elle était membre de l'équipe nationale d'aviron. Elle est une auteure reconnue de livres destinés aux pré-ados et ados, de la série d'albums illustrés Puckster et de plusieurs livres documentaires sur le hockey. Lorna habite à Edmonton, en Alberta.


LORNA SCHULTZ NICHOLSON grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, and as a child loved to read, write and compete in all kinds of sports. She is the respected author of many middle-grade and YA novels, the Puckster picture book series, and several non-fiction books about hockey, including the Amazing Hockey Stories series. Lorna lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her family. Not surprisingly, she is a HUGE Edmonton Oilers fan. Visit her online at


Lorna Schultz Nicholson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"There are very few, if any, fictionalized accounts related to the sport of rowing in Canada, and When You Least Expect It does an outstanding job of filling this niche, conveying the overwhelming physical demands and tenacity that are hallmarks of the art of rowing. An examination of the book cover spots adds further credibility with a recommendation written by Al Morrow, acclaimed and now retired Canadian Olympic Team Rowing Coach. This story is a compelling, page-turning read and was selected as a finalist for Alberta's 2022 R. Ross Annett Award for Children's Literature."
CM Magazine

"Lorna Schultz Nicholson's work is an inspiring reflection of the journey of a young athlete pursuing their dreams…This riveting story focuses on finding the balance between work and family — and between passion and obsession. It brings insight into the importance of family and surrounding yourself with people who push you forward. Anyone who has chased their dreams despite the setback, been forced to adapt to new circumstances, or just wants to know they'll be supported by the people they care about will find inspiration in these pages. Written for a young adult audience, this story tells its reader to live life without regrets, strive for your dreams, and not forget to live along the way."
Canadian Children's Book News

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