A college student returns to her small hometown and must confront various ghosts from her past and present.
Amiah Williams left Kingsley, Alberta, for college in Vancouver after her disastrous four-year relationship with Mike, the small town’s golden boy, ended. When her father suffers a catastrophic leg injury, she returns home to work on her family’s ranch and support her parents but immediately comes face to face with her ex as well as her former best friend and a potential new suitor, Alek. To complicate matters even further, Amiah walks into the grocery store to find herself on the front page of the Inquirer, Kingsley’s anonymously written gossip tabloid, with the headline: “Miah the Man-Eater: Miah makes out with her former BF’s younger brother in front of Mike!” Amiah immediately calls Nathan, her best friend from Vancouver, and it's cleverly revealed that the two are actually the co-writers and -publishers of the paper, which primarily bases its stories on tips and photos shared via email by townspeople. Amiah is shocked Nathan chose to write the story about her, but he points out that the Inquirer couldn't ignore multiple tips or it would raises suspicions about who was behind it. With Nathan's support, Amiah begins to slowly reckon with her relationship with Mike, and reform relationships with everyone else, even as she and Nathan continue to write and produce issues of the Inquirer, but when her parents discover what she's doing, the tabloid no longer seems like a harmless way to pay student loans. A bildungsroman that never drags, Dawn’s debut novel is appealing both in its innovation—it intersperses newspaper articles from the Inquirer throughout—and its unexpected insights from Amiah, its well-drawn narrator. Though at times there are too many minor characters and backstories, the novel captures both the intimacy and, at times, suffocating nature of a small town without lapsing into derision of Kingsley or its residents. Dawn sets a brisk, engaging pace while tactfully dealing with the nuances of coercive relationships, the strain of living up to appearances and expectations, and the costs of finding one’s voice.
A fresh, enticingly told coming-of-age story.