Halfway to Schist
Opal Ethelred Rogers, Red for short, the only child of two geology professors, has been brought up on her mother’s stories, which use geological episodes as metaphors for life. According to her mother, “Life is nothing but an unending series of these glacial and interglacial periods. Remember that, Red.” When her mother commits suicide, Red relegates these “gilded sagas” to being “one more ugly indictment” of her family and “one more sign that my mother, my father and I were not, and would never be, normal.”
Difficult years ensue until one day her father decides to uproot their lives in Buffalo and relocate to a small uninhabited island near Pointe au Baril Station on the east coast of Georgian Bay in southern Ontario, Canada. While packing for the move, the stories her mother told her as a child are rediscovered in a notebook and they become “the compass I would use to navigate through the most unforgettable and influential moments of my life – the summer of 1955.”
Her father’s plan to rebuild an abandoned lodge at this isolated location is met with dismay and some resistance by his fifteen-year-old daughter. This reluctance gradually turns into cooperation and deeper bond is formed between father and daughter. Help with the restoration is recruited and includes a couple of young men, Isadore Whitefeather and Walter Mahoney, both about the same age as Red. Despite having disparate backgrounds, the teenagers become fast friends and support each other, including Walter’s ill-fated entry in the annual regatta and the catching of a mythic musky in the fishing derby, both sponsored by a nearby hotel/resort.
It’s the same hotel where Red accepts a job as a nanny and is introduced to the “Richie Riches,” the pretentious guests who reside there in the summer. Ignoring warnings from her friends, Red decides to attend a secret, unchaperoned party in a remote location with the teen guests, gets drunk and only the timely intervention of Isadore and Walter saves her from being raped. Yes, the Richie Riches are a nasty lot and not all of them have come by their wealth honestly, as the trio of intrepid teens soon find out.
Author Peter Bridgford has created an entertaining coming-of-age novel that depicts the end of innocence in an innocent time. Halfway to Schist has a realistic plot, believable characters, and flawless writing, including impressive imagery of the Canadian wilderness as well as authentic fishing and boating details. The geological metaphors are interesting if for no other reason than the science they’re derived from. The story flows naturally and, with the exception of a beginning burdened with backstory and an overlong denouement, is well structured with rising tension that has the reader turning pages quickly.
|Page Count||264 pages|
|Publisher||Black Rose Writing|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|