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About this book
- Winner of the Cover Design Award at the 2016 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
- Shortlisted for the Fiction Trade Book of the Year Award at the 2016 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
- Shortlisted for the Second Annual Kobo Emerging Writer Prize - Literary Fiction!
When her family’s car goes through the ice on Rainy Lake one cold March day in 1962, six-year-old Rebecca Archer is the only person her father is able to pull from the sinking vehicle. But as Rebecca grows up in a farmhouse haunted by the absence of her mother and baby brother, raised by a man left nearly paralyzed with grief, she wonders if her father really did save her after all.
Eventually, though, Rebecca finds solace in the company of her friends: Chuck, the sensitive son of a violently abusive father; and Lissie, an Aboriginal girl being raised alone by a perfectionist white mother. As these three young people protect and support one another, Rebecca discovers that by saving Chuck and Lissie, she may also save herself.
In her debut novel, Wendi Stewart tells the luminous, deeply imagined story of a young woman’s hard-won triumph over heartbreaking personal tragedy.
“Wendi Stewart’s Meadowlark is lyrical and vivid, startlingly fresh writing about childhood and loss, decaying dreams, bravery and the everyday brutality that is sometimes visited upon the damaged and the innocent alike. It is about the fast, inviolate friendships that see us through. Stewart creates characters that will last. Here is ultra-wise and propulsive writing about all the small dramatic moments that loom large and make us quake.”
“Meadowlark is a stirring debut about three young friends captive to the choices adults make and the secrets they keep. At the tender heart of this book is the refreshingly fierce Rebecca Archer pushing back against the isolation of grief and neglect, the betrayal of forgetting. In pitch-perfect prose, Wendi Stewart delivers a nuanced, visceral portrait of small towns and family farms, memory and identity, and most achingly, the liberating beauty of friendship.”
“In this evocative coming-of-age novel, Stewart’s characters find a way to challenge the confines of the world they inhabit. Powerfully rendering life in small town northwestern Ontario, Meadowlark grips a reader from first page to last.”
“Meadowlark is an impressive debut novel that encapsulates the heartache and immediacy of young lives upended. In Stewart’s evocative depiction of Rebecca Archer, we meet a girl who is willing to be different, to be brave, to beat back against unspeakable tragedy without losing tenderness.”
"Wendi Stewart’s Meadowlark is at once a manifesto of grief and a testament to all that can be gained when there’s nothing left to lose. This novel drew me in gently and never let go—not even after I had read its final passages. Stewart writes with beautiful, painful honesty about the divide that can exist between parents and children, the resilience that must be cultivated once innocence is lost, and the redemption that can be found through friendship and love. Her observations about childhood are clever and graceful. It’s a rare book that makes me cry and laugh the way this one did."
"Stewart's story reflects self-discovery in the midst of suffering. Meadowlark is a novel of tragedy infused with hope and survival." full review
"Wendi Stewart has a smart and compelling heroine in Rebecca Archer." full review
"Meadowlark is remarkable for its distinctive, clear-voiced, endearing young characters ... a very promising debut." full review
"Read it for Wendi Stewart’s powerful evocation of loss and for the hope held throughout that these orphans will find some escape." full review
"Meadowlark fully explores the social dynamics between men and women, girls and boys, adults, and children, and generations; it considers the opportunities we are given or held back from because of circumstance, and directly challenges the age-old phrase, 'bloom where you are planted.'"