"This saga of bad luck and good company is a wry, scary, heartfelt ode to the traverses we have to make in life when we're at the end of our rope and there's no net below us." —ELLE
When Hattie's moody boyfriend dumps her in Paris, she returns home to find that her sister Min is in the psych ward again. Freaked out by the prospect of becoming a surrogate mother to Min's kids, Logan and Thebes, Hattie decides to take them in the family van to find their father, last heard to be running an idiosyncratic art gallery in South Dakota. What ensues is a remarkable journey across America, as aunt and kids—through chaos as diverse as their personalities—discover one another to be both far crazier and far more normal than any of them thought.
A road novel helped along by a lovably nutty cast, Toews's latest (after A Complicated Kindness) follows a ragtag crew as they crisscross America. Hattie, recently dumped in Paris by her "moody, adjective-hating boyfriend," returns home to Canada after receiving an emergency phone call from her niece. Turns out, Hattie's sister, Min, is back in the psych ward, and her kids, 11-year-old Thebes and 15-year-old Logan, are fending for themselves. Thus the quirky trio purple-haired, wise-beyond-her-years Thebes, recently expelled brother Logan and overwhelmed Hattie embark on a road trip to the States to find the kids' long-missing father. What follows is a Little Miss Sunshine like quest in which the characters learn about themselves and each other as they weather car repairs, sleazy motel rooms and encounters with bizarre people. Toews's gift for writing precocious children and the story's antic momentum redeem the familiar set-up, and if the ending feels a bit rushed, it's largely because it's tough to let Toews's characters go.