A fierce and heartbreaking debut from FOLD founder Jael Richardson about a young woman with the courage to determine her own future
Imagine a world in which the hopeless and vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society. Imagine a world divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In that world lives Elimina Dubois, one of only 100 children selected as a social experiment by the Mainland government to be taken from their mothers in the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity.
But when her Mainland mother dies when Elimina is just a teenager, Elimina finds herself all alone, forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. When she makes friends with Gutter children, each making their own way through the crushing cycle of the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how, Elimina will discover that the thing she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she imagined after all.
Gutter Child takes us on the journey of a young woman in a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and horrific injustices. Richardson’s Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality, who, must find the strength within herself to determine her own future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.
Jael Richardson is the Artistic Director of The FOLD literary festival, the books columnist on CBC Radio’s ‘q’ and an outspoken advocate on issues of diversity. She is the author of The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, a memoir based on her relationship with her father, CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey. The book received a CBC Bookie Award and earned Richardson an Acclaim Award and a My People Award as an Emerging Artist. A children’s book called The Stone Thrower was published by Groundwood Books in 2016. Her essay “Conception” is part of Room’s first Women of Colour edition, and excerpts from her first play, my upside down black face, are published in the anthology T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers. Richardson has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and she lives in Brampton, Ontario.