Rowen had a difficult life: crazy father, mutilated horses, mother who joined a neo-pagan, hippy, lesbian communal living arrangement in northern Saskatchewan. So he steals and sells drugs for a living. Rowan developed into an unusual and largely unlikable person.  A unique blend of the rural and the urban, half-cowboy and half-punk, Rowan is a small-time drug-dealer, amateur robot builder, and accomplished thief who supports himself by selling stolen goods on the internet.  We see the unstable and confusing world in which Rowan is raised. Chief among his childhood experiences is the initial psychotic breakdown of his schizophrenic father who viciously blinds his own horses before being arrested by the RCMP. Rowan goes out to the barn with his mother and has this violent scene etched on his brain.This disturbing event seemingly motivates Rowan’s mother to shed her Mennonite clothes, pull on some jeans, cut her hair, and leave Saskatchewan for the Pacific Northwest, where she drags her young son around for six years, repeatedly uprooting him and unknowingly exposing him to sexual predators. Between the ages of seven and thirteen, Rowan watches his decidedly lost mother engage in a series of short-lived relationships with various drug-addicts, hippies, and lesbians before returning to Saskatchewan to live with her brother. With his father medicated and his grandfather living next door, we hope that Rowan will finally obtain some stability. He finds none. Instead, he voluntarily moves out after learning the scandalous family secret that precipitated his father’s breakdown. A generally unpopular boy at school, Rowan becomes best friends, and later lovers, with Macon, another misfit in his town. Their tender relationship is the only anchor in Rowan’s young life; yet, it, too, changes dramatically before long.

Not an easy read but well worth the time.


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