Lauren Kirshner: Where We Have to Go



Every compelling novel has its characters experience their emotional ups and downs humorous moments pitfalls and eventual resurgence All these elements of character development come together wonderfully in Canadian author Lauren Kirshner s first ever novel Where We Have To Go making it as compelling a read as everThe entirety of the novel is told through the first person perspective of Lucy Bloom throughout her ears of adolescence and oung adulthood Her parents constantly argue with each other and always talk about divorce she freuently gets bullied by a few of her classmates at school and goes through many hardships when it comes to boyfriends and relationships Life for Lucy isn t easy but she learns to persevere through her troubles even during the toughest of times She actively supports and cares for her mother tries to maintain her relationships with her father does well academically in school and even makes a couple of friends along the way While this may seem like one of our typical coming of age stories Lucy s charming personality childish demeanor and sense of awkwardness is what separates her experience from others Even as she matures her outlook on issues in her everyday life remain the same She does her best to bring out the positive in people and isn t scared to voice her opinion if she thinks something is going wrong Over her Devils Gate (NUMA Files, years she tried to ignore her parents constant bickering and the insults thrown at her in school but soon learns that she can t just shy away from the negative and has to face her problems head on Naturally she goes through bouts of depression but overcomes the feeling to eventually prevail Her journey is an engaging one that has its unexpected twists and turns but will keepou glued until the endThe most likable aspect of Where We Have To Go is perhaps besides Lucy s personality the relatable experiences that she goes through The setting of the book is none other than Toronto Canada which happens to be my hometown and many of the places that Lucy visits and talks about are places that I ve been to many times and have become accustomed to For example Lucy mentions how every Saturday she does the groceries with her family at No Frills and shops at Zellers experiences that I am very familiar with especially during my childhood She even recounts her experiences at Canadian landmarks such as the CN Tower Skydome and Niagara Falls While the majority of the story takes place around the 1990s there are still striking similarities to then and now and surprisingly comes off as highly relatable Author Lauren Kirshner s writing style is detailed and light hearted much like the rest of the book and I feel she wrote about her very own childhood days when she writes about Lucy The book successfully explored the theme of nostalgia and made me feel a bit giddy on the inside as wellI do feel the book has some pacing problems and could be sped up from time to time as well as not having a definite climax The situations never get too intense and there are sections that can come off as sort of boring These are minor complaints however and the majority of the book left me pleased I recommend Where We Have To Go for anyone who wants a mostly easy going reading experience while still exploring some of the intricacies of childhood and teenage issues or for anyone who grew up in Toronto or any city in general and wants a nostalgic experience In conclusion Where We Have To Go is a great first novel by Lauren Kirshner and I highly recommend checking it out Lucy Bloom is 11 Thunder Voice (Sam Keaton: Legends of Laramie years old and she loves Alf and her cat Lulu Her life is simple but soon gets complicated Her family is drifting apart before her and there s nothing she can do to stop itThe book continues to tell the story of Lucy throughout her teenageears She has than enough problems to face in a lifetime let alone just those few precious Rebelde Rendición (Saga Londres, years As Lucy moves towards adulthood she learns the truth is not always what is seems and learns to look at her parents as real people not just parentsI didn t really enjoy this book that much First off literally NOTHING good ever happens in Lucy s life throughout the course of this book Her entire teenears not one good thing It made for a really depressing readWhile I liked the author s style and the imagination she gave Lucy I found most of the characters very flat including Lucy herself I didn t really enjoy her voice and the perspective she had on some things The plot was not really driven by anything There are no real climactic events to speak of just a series of things that Lucy happens to go through The story definitely did not pull me in and make me want to finish it as uickly as possibleThe book got better towards the end but I m still not sure what I m supposed to have taken away from it If this was a coming of age story I m not sure what the significant events were that were supposed to have changed Lucy She never really acted like anything affected her too significantly I wasn t really able to view her actions and emotions as being a result of her parents problems Basically I felt the entire book was just Lucy s life going along from point A to point B I m sure she was somehow supposed to be shaped by the things that happened in her teenage Wretched Moments years but to me there was no one important thing that stood out I just finished this book for my book club and very much enjoyed it The 70s 80s and 90s brought back a lot of my childhood memories for me I enjoyed reading about the styles Named NOW Magazine’s Best Emerging Local Author Where We Have to Go is a luminous and sassy first novel about the last days of childhood in a family coming apart at the seams At once wryly humorous and deeply affecting this sparkling novel follows the irresistible Lucy Bloom as she searches for her place in the world When we first meet Lucy she’s an imaginative elevenear old dreaming of a taste of freedom and only beginning to grasp that all is not well between her parents In the ears that follow Lucy’s journey to adulthood.

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F the times I related to the main character because I remember as a child growing up in a household where my parents fought and not knowing what I could do to stop it from happening I felt a special bond with my dog to get me through those times What disturbed me about the book is how often the parents dragged their one child into their adult issues All to often thi This coming of age novel is told from the point of view of protagonist Lucy Bloom Growing up in the Canadian city of Toronto during the 1990s Lucy ages from 11 to 17 while experiencing great changes and teenage angst Much of the story revolves around Lucy s friends and family and how they all change along with herThe story begins with Lucy in the eighth grade looking forward to high school Her world is suddenly ripped apart when she realizes her father Frank is having an affair with the skinny blonde from her father s AA meetings This is a woman whom Lucy mockingly refers to as Crashing Wave Lucy cares deeply about her mother Joy and does not want to upset her so she doesn t let on that something is up Lucy loves her mother and this never wavers throughout the novelA lot of changes occur within Lucy s family and within Lucy herself I m not going to elaborate and spoil everything but I will say that she spirals downwards in a way that some teenage girls do It is really sad and ou just want to shake this girl and say don t act that way Along with her artistic friend Erin the nerdy Lucy transforms from child into adult while learning to deal with bullies and boyfriendsAuthor Lauren Kirshner does an outstanding rather amazing job of describing the local landscape both physical and social There are abundant references to places and things that anyone growing up in Southern Ontario can easily identify with The CN Tower the CNE Crystal Beach Niagara Falls pickle flavored chips grocery shopping at No Frills private school uniforms and even jos louis snacks There is a lot of Canadiana described in these pagesI loved this book and rate it 5 stars Kirshner s debut novel is the mostly sparkling coming of age story of Lucy Bloom from early adolescence to oung adulthood Kirshner explores the dynamics of a secular working class 1980s90s Toronto Jewish family grappling with marital infidelity alcoholism and eating disorders as well as the central character s negotiation of friendship sexual awakening and identity The above dirty laundry list of issues perhaps makes the book sound grim and dark but the story is leavened by considerable humour a lively first person narration and interesting three dimensional characters Kirshner is dextrous with language and the book is grounded in vivid sensory detail and fresh images Overall this is an entertaining and engrossing novel that makes the reader care about the central character Lucy Bloom and her family and friendsThe first 23 of the book are stronger than the lattter third in which Lucy s mother is ailing I was rather confused by the section in which Lucy tells her incapacitated mother a fictionally true story about the brief period they spent away from Lucy s father in a run down apartment complex The author seems to be wanting to make a point here about the healing power of stories but to my mind at least it didn t work It would ve been valuable to rethink rework and revise this section considerably prior to publication An additional criticism the farewell to the childhood home saying goodbye to where the TV stood and the kitchen cupboards etc which concludes WHERE WE HAVE TO GO is cliche unlike the balance of the book which though it explored some familiar coming of age themes did so with energyI look forward to reading Kirshner s future work and highly recommend her first offering It is a solid book that deserves to be read by both adults and high school age oung adultsThank ou to Net Galley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this text This book is absolutely incredible It s the debut novel from Lauren Kirshner who was mentored by Margaret Atwood at U of TThe voice I thought I would be ga ga over the moon for this book It has all the ingredients I m usually such a sucker for coming of age first person narrator dysfunctional family humor the mother and daughter relationship it s even set in Canada during a time period that should make me feel nostalgic I really liked it parts of it work amazingly well but overall I m left feeling empty and a little cheated It s like I was promised a real live bloody beating heart and then after being led down the garden path a few times I was handed a cut out of a black and white diagram from a 1960s biology textbook Or remember this ad from a few ears ago The expression on that kid s face perfectly sums up how I m feeling right now a little cheated a little mistreatedThe structure of this novel is impressive Kirshner s control of language is enviable and she is obviously a talented writer hence the 3 stars But here s the thing even though all the technical aspects of the novel are firmly in place plotting pacing characterization metaphors analogies foreshadowing the works most readers are searching for than technical proficiency when they sit down and open a book I don t like to feel manipulated by literary devices and tricks of the trade I want to be swept away goddamn it and be pulled out of my own life for awhile I want to live and breathe a story and totally believe in the characters I m reading about I want to feel their pain and cheer for. Will see her uestion the limits of unconditional love grow “criminally thin” as she stops eating and discover complicated truths about what it means to be a oung woman Through it all the central figure in Lucy’s life remains her mother Joy whose larger than life stories and boisterous voice belie a deep disappointment As their relationship is tested again and again Lucy comes to understand the resilience of the bonds that tie us to the ones we loveAmong the characters we meet are Lucy’ s father Frank a failed glamour photogr.

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Their success There is just something a little too contrived and I don t know kitschy about the struggles in this one The first 13 of the book sort of reminded me of Running with Scissors the dysfunction is such that it reaches almost the level of parody Surely the narrator is taking liberties with memory and exaggeration In the case of Where We Have to Go I found myself struggling with the way Lucy s parents related to her and spoke with her Things are said that left me scratching my head thinking would parents really talk to their 11 ear old kid like that Even an only child As for Lucy her precociousness is so over the top her insights so keen I could never really buy her as just a kid Her beyond her Lifes a Pitch years wisdom is jarring and unconvincing when we also consider she s prancing around in ALF merchandise not even realizing it s long off the air and she s watching it in syndication Other things that left me unsatisfied view spoilerLucy s mom and her friend trying to set Lucy up with a boy when she s TWELVE YEARS OLD Huh Really I knowoung girls are growing up faster than ever these days but do Castle Barebane you really needour mother pimping Mixed Tape Series Volume you out I also felt the anorexia bit kind of a throwaway part of the novel it lagged and didn t ring true for me It felt like forced drama attempting to add depth to Lucy s coming of age trials I also did not appreciate the uick death of Lucy s mother at the end I felt emotionally manipulated There s nothing tragic or devastating than dying mothers battling cancer It felt like a cheap ploy and made me angry hide spoiler Originally reviewed at Novel Escapes Where We Have to Go is a thoroughly enjoyable coming of age tale full of uirky characters humour and angst This story shines a light on some of the darker realities of a faultering marriage from a child s perspective and the long lasting effects of such a tumultuous upbringing This novel could have been much grim but Kirshner handles the fine line between humour and somber so deftly that the serious issues never come across as being made light of which is a testament to her writing and something I greatly appreciatedAnyone who had ever felt self conscious as a child or teen or felt themselves odd or uirky or an outsider or had ever held their hands over their ears to ease parental bickering will be able to relate to this novel Lucy Bloom is a wonderful protagonist She s so cute and uirky and sad thatou can t help but be empathetic towards her and as I watched her life grew complicated as she navigates her teens I found myself cringing and wanting to scream at her and everyone around her And then on the next page I would find myself chortling or with a grin on my face It was so well written in this aspect that I loved the constant anticipation of what emotion I would feel nextAs an only child Lucy is left to navigate her parent s marriage through infidelity separation and reuniting There is much in this novel that is heartbreaking but I always felt undercurrents of hope I continuously rooted for Lucy and her family all the way through this novel and wanted to shake her parents to keep their issues from her and to actually see what she was going through I could never figure out where Lucy would end up in life and I loved thatHaving grown up through the 70 s 80 s and 90 s I loved the feeling of nostalgia Where do we go From Here brought Along with all the childhood memories were many Canadianisms and Toronto references which is always a bonus for me with any novelWhere We Have to Go was a fabulous debut novel and I will definitely read another by Lauren Kirshner Thank The Magdalen you to McClelland and Stewart for our review copy All opinions are our own Where We Have To Go sparkles in its sad revelations on the life of oneoung girl stuck in one dysfunctional family Lauren Kirshner marks her debut with a fine tuned novel filled with ample uirk a touch of spunk and a whole lot of tragic circumstances As the novel opens the eleven All the Devils are Here year old Lucy dreams of freedom in the shape of a bicycle Her vision dissipates when she receives a pair of second hand roller skates for her birthday and when she becomes conscious of her parents marital troubles Lucy then embarks on an odyssey toward adulthood an adventure riddled with toxic friendships anorexia and anxieties connected to her changing environment Even as she wades through her own confusion Lucy maintains her charm and presses onSet in Toronto in the nineties the novel invitesoung readers to re live their past through a literary lens Kirshner adds delightful touches of pop culture to her text most notably in little Lucy s admiration of ALF Sweet complicated and entirely addictive finish the novel in one sitting then repeatIdeal for Toronto high schoolers needing proof of literature s relevancy Twenty somethings needing a hit of nostalgia Coming of age junkies I don t understand why this book hasn t recieved recognition in terms of book awards etc Perhaps there has not been enough time in the market as Miles to Go (The Walk, yet I think it is beautiful But not ifou ware wanting action mystery moving plot If The Wake you like to get to know characters and ifou enjoy beautiful writing ou will be happy with this novel about a family just trying to get by Like most of us Lives of uiet desperation my pessimistic husband used to say I liked the metaphor that was created by the manneuins in the garden symbols for this family And I also liked the way the author did not get maudlin and hung up on the death of the mothe. Apher turned travel agent who’s never been out of the country; her best friend Erin an artist whose outspoken iconoclasm will inspire and challenge Lucy; and Crashing Wave Frank’s lover a former exotic dancer and the woman Lucy comes to imagine as the ideal of all that is feminineSet in Toronto throughout the 1990s Where We Have to Go is a novel of self discovery family and love It introduces Lauren Kirshner as one of our most striking new voices and reminds us that sometimes the most difficult journey is the one that takes us hom.

wwwlauren kirshnercomLauren is a graduate of The University of Toronto’s Masters of English in the Field of Creative Writing where she was mentored by Margaret Atwood Lauren was born in Toronto where she continues to live and write She is currently at work on her second novel