Book Review: Clearwater

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“It’s surprising what a heart can take,” says Claire Sullivan, Clearwater.

McCullough takes us on an unforgettable coming of age journey into adulthood that is filled with tension yet impeccably detailed with so many of the issues found in the Northern Canadian experience.

Family, friendship, love and loss are the themes running through Clearwater.  It is the family and friends, those ties and hold they have that define you and in Clearwater there are many difficult moments that in their families and friendships that shape Claire, Daniel, Leah, Jeff and Shane. McCullough definitely does not shy away from those often difficult times in adolescence and adulthood, and writes it with all the tension and angst associated with it.

Claire, and her twin siblings Leah and Daniel must adjust to a new move for their not-so-present mother’s new government job from their home in Regina to Clearwater, in Northern Manitoba. Leah and Daniel are very close and never interested in having Claire hang around. While Leah and Daniel take off to explore their new surroundings on their own, Claire meets Jeff, the mixed race boy from next door. Suddenly, the move and the difficulties with her brother and sister don’t seem to such a tough thing to endure.

Over the summer Jeff and Claire develop an intensely close friendship. This friendship is greatly tested however when two tragic and shocking events rock their families. Following a brutal sexual assault, Claire’s sister Leah slips into an unbreakable depression. She goes missing, but her body is later quickly found following her dramatic suicide. At the same time, Jeff can no longer hide the brutal abuse his father doles out. Jeff leaves the area without much thought given to those that care for him, and leaving Claire a long, lonely and difficult task of piecing her life together now that her family has been completely torn apart.

Years pass where each try to shape their adult life following these harrowing events.  Jeff and Claire find each other again and reunite in Clearwater, but will their friendship stand the test of time? Will it develop into something more? How have they changed following that one fateful year in Clearwater?

Thank you very much to Coteau Books and Kim McCullough for considering us to read Clearwater. It is a remarkable debut and I’m looking forward to reading more from her. Clearwater was a book that was engrossing, filled with tension yet also filled with lovingly drawn people as well. Its pages are filled with sadness, but there is a great deal of hope and love in them too. 4 stars = excellent read.

I’m passing this on to Jackie because I’m sure she’ll be drawn to it as much as I was while reading.

Kim McCullough developed a playlist for Clearwater that is featured on her website: What a fantastic playlist! I’m really loving this thought given to the songs that influence and shape the characters or are featured as part of the story. This playlist features The Payolas too. ;-)