A girl whose eyes have always been on her future is forced to look at herself.
It’s the early 1990s in an apparently predominantly white small town—exactly where is not specified, but some readers will begin to realize it’s probably in the Canadian Maritimes. Scorning her first name, Frances, George is the girl who will say anything—but not everything, as her best friend, Lisa, says. With her Mountie father on medical leave and changes percolating within her group of friends, George wants to get out of the valley and go to school in the city. But then she meets Francis, a guy who sparks feelings George isn’t able to ignore. But Francis is a cop like her dad—and a dozen years older than George. Their romance can never be anything but a secret, and it makes George pull back from her friends and lie to everyone. When tragedy strikes, George realizes how lost she’s let herself become and struggles to find a way to carry on. While the physical setting is meticulously described (and George’s desire to leave it emphasized), its lack of specificity leaves readers unanchored, with the result that neither it nor the early-’90s historical period feels organic to the story. Narrating from the future, George and her hard, coldblooded nature take time to warm up to, and the meandering pace of the novel doesn’t help. But the writing is evocative and literary, and readers who persist may find that’s enough.
Patient readers might find a minor reward. (Historical fiction. 16-18)