Come, Thou Tortoise, Jessica Grant
Vintage Canada, 432 pages
Come, Thou Tortoise is an absolutely wonderful story about love, loyalty, and the many different faces of honesty from first-time Canadian novelist Jessica Grant. The main character, Audrey “Oddly” Flowers, moved from Newfoundland to Oregon to be with her rock-climbing boyfriend. Finding apartment life too stifling, the boyfriend decides to seek new adventures on his own, entrusting a three hundred year old tortoise, Winnifred, to Audrey’s care. Audrey and Winnifred, united in their abandoned state, form nearly psychic bonds with each other. Then one day, Audrey receives a phone call from her uncle telling her that her father has had a terrible accident and is in a coma. Her father dies while she is on her way home, setting Audrey off on a journey to learn some important truths about her past, begin a promising future and reunite with the steadfast Winnifred, who makes an excellent if unexpected narrator. My only frustration with this novel was that it presented me with a dilemma – I needed to see what happened to Audrey, but I didn’t want the story to ever end. Darkly funny, this offbeat and insightful coming-of-age novel will appeal to teen and adult readers who enjoyed Marika Cobbold’s Guppies for Tea and Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness.