By Matthew Hooten
Random House Publishers
If you were to go to Vancouver Island, just over the Malahat, past Bamberton and onto the Shawinigan Mill Bay Road, then you’d be right in the middle of this novel.
This is an “island” kind of book, in the same way that people talk about time, as “island time.”
It’s pace is leisurely, but full of description and deep feelings. This is a new author and he knows the island very well.
Deloume road is off the beaten track, a world removed from even the smell of salty air . . . with trees dense, tall and green, full of mossy conifers and arbutus.” It is a gravel road, leading no where, where kids ride bikes at break neck speed and then leave long snaking sideways skid marks at the bottom dip.
Kids are out all day, biting into sour apples and gorging on blackberries; their lives a pattern of pretend wars, rambles and minor unreported accidents.
The road is named for Gerard Deloume, whose dreams went bust in this forest; here he committed suicide in 1899. He lost something, all those years ago; a thing that, when found, will be the catalyst for great
change and tragedy on the road.
The adults on Deloume include a Korean veteran, an artist who finds some peace from his nightmares in oil and canvas.
His son is a Bush Pilot, who is down in the northern bush somewhere.
Irene, whose real name is Sue hwa, is the young Korean widow with a baby on the way. Her mother wants her to return to Korea, and maybe she will.
The Ukrainian Butcher came to Canada alone, and hopes one day to send for his wife and young son.
The young boys on the road, remind him of Petr, his own son growing up faraway, so he is an easy touch when they come to beg for pepperoni sticks.
The boys are Matthew, his brother Andy, an autistic and Josh, Matthew’s best friend. Andy is a happy boy with few words, who counts and hides his treasures. Matthew protects him and cares for him.
There is another boy on the road named Miles. His father is the junk dealer, a man full of hate, who beats his son, and deprives him of both School and friends.
In Miles, the author has created a heartbreakingly brave and lonely boy. The Doberman chained in his fathers junk yard has more value to his father.
Jonah Davies arrives on Deloume road, the grandfather of Matthew and Andy. His licence plate says, “Wild Rose Country” and he wears cowboy boots and a big hat. He’s an instant hit with the boys.
The road is full of people with dreams and hopes and worries, but the chain of events begun when one of the boys finds that important lost item from 1899, brings tragedy and loss to the road.
Then that green place, though still heartbreakingly beautiful, will harbour a dark secret.
Peggy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Red Deer.