Inukshuk – Gregory Spatz (2012, Bellevue Literary Press, New York)
I always go for the quirky plots, so I glomped onto this story of Thomas, a troubled teenaged boy with an unhealthy obsession with the British explorer Sir John Franklin (and when I say “unhealthy,” I’m talking scurvy) and his delicate relationship with his separated parents who are caught up in their own passions (Dad’s a tortured poet, Mom’s an environmental crusader). Skillfully and lyrically written, Inukshuk nevertheless lost me with the Franklin expedition – I loved the parallels drawn between history and the modern day story (and, of course, Thomas’ fictionalized movie version of events), but I couldn’t keep the characters and events straight. I kept finding myself glossing over the Franklin stories, and I know I missed out on some of the larger themes of the novel because of it. I had a far greater connection to the story of Thomas and his parents.