All right then. Here begins the lamenting author’s unabashed praise for her own work. With a whole lot of reasons why you need these books, because whether they’re your type of reading or not, you know someone in whom they’ll touch a nerve or spark a memory, or just stay a while in the heart. Today’s book:
Available through NeWest Press (via their website), your local indie bookstore by order, online from one of the major booksellers, and of course, from my favourite source of books – your public library. Unfortunately, Running Toward Home, is not available as an ebook at this point.
Why do you need to read this book?
1. It was my first book, and is a collage of memory from my years as a social worker in Child Welfare. The book is dedicated to children in care, and in retrospect, I wish I’d included the parents of these children in the dedication. Tina, one of the four voices in the novel, is the character with whom I struggled the most. Eight years later, she still begs me to write a sequel to her story, but I have such a sense of foreboding around Tina’s story that I’ve closed my ears to her hissing demand.
2. This was my sister’s favourite of my books, and I only learned this a few months before she died. This was in a conversation about regrets over things left undone. I was totally drained, and told her that I didn’t care if I ever had another book. When she said, “Don’t you dare stop writing!” I heard the voice of my bossy big sister, a voice that had been absent for some time. Why, I asked her, Running Toward Home, this one that showed many of the flaws of first books? Because of Corey, that child whose future was left dangling. Because the story was open-ended, she said, she was able to imagine a happy conclusion. The endings to most of my stories, she claimed, were totally depressing.
3. Because of Barb Howard’s generous review: “From the warm-hearted parents, to the torn teen mother, to the social worker with an agenda, to wary Corey himself —Running Toward Home delivers the compelling details of a child stuck on a treadmill of government regulation and human vulnerability.”
4. And another from Dave Margoshes: “Three deceptively simple strands—a mother, a foster mother and a runaway boy—are woven together against a slightly surreal backdrop of the Calgary Zoo at night, when tigers and dinosaurs roam free. . . . Betty Jane Hegerat has written a small gem of a novel.”
4. Because of Chris Flodberg’s beautiful art on the cover of the book. This tiger, part of a series, a romantic rendering of cats, was first shown at the University of Calgary, and is now in a private collection.
4. Because of Robert Kroetsch who read the draft of the book that preceded the finished work when I was in his Novel Colloquium at the Sage Hill Writing Experience in 2003. Without showing me how, he showed me the way to breathe life into this story. Because of the note he penned in my copy of his own Badlands: “For Betty Jane because you are making the Calgary Zoo into a Canadian literary site. Thank you.”
5. Because I have just finished reading Running Toward Home. I cannot make myself read any of my published novels cover-to-cover once the words are permanently fixed to pages and bound into covers. Why? Because I would want to edit through eternity. But I’ve gotten over that silly inhibition. And you know what? This is a good story.