January 27, 2003 12:00 PM

by Lynn Coady

You can’t help but pity 15-year-old Guy Boucher. His parents are divorced, he never sees his father, and his primary male influence is his uncle Isadore, a hulking, humorless drunk. Isadore bullies Guy (pronounced Gee, with a hard G) and his family, hurls insults at them and “borrows” their TV on Christmas Eve so he can hock it to buy booze. And yet in this slice-of-life novel self-pity is far from Guy’s mind, which leans more toward fantasies of Corinne Fortune, a high school cutie from nearby Big Harbour. She captures his heart with the words, “You’re not from around here, are you?” Unfortunately for Guy, Corinne has a rich inner life of her own, and the fallout from her fantasy world has dangerous implications.

This is no teen romance novel. Coady has crafted a detailed, intimate and often bleak look at life in a remote and insular corner of Cape Breton, N.S. To call it uplifting would be a stretch, but as social studies go, it’s hard to beat. (Houghton Mifflin, $24)

BOTTOM LINE: You go, Guy

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