Come on down to Cornerstone Cafe and Taphouse on Sunday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for the book launch of A Handbook for Beautiful People, a novel by Courtenay resident Jennifer Spruit.
In addition to hearing some scenes from Spruit’s debut novel, you can enjoy the musical stylings of Maple Creek, all hosted by the Comox Valley Poet Laureate, Natalie Nickerson.
This debut novel has attracted advance praise from both Joesph Boyden and Annabel Lyon. When twenty-two-year-old Marla finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she wishes for a family, but faces precariousness: an uncertain future with her talented, exacting boyfriend, Liam; constant danger from her roommate, Dani, a sometime prostitute and entrenched drug addict; and the unannounced but overwhelming needs of her younger brother, Gavin, whom she has brought home for the first time from deaf school.
Forcing her hand is Marla’s fetal alcohol syndrome, which sets her apart but also carries her through. When Marla loses her job and breaks her arm in a car accident, Liam asks her to marry him. It’s what she’s been waiting for: a chance to leave Dani, but Dani doesn’t take no for an answer.
Marla stays strong when her mother shows up drunk, creates her own terms when Dani publicly shames her, and then falls apart when Gavin attempts suicide. It rains, and then pours, and when the Bow River finally overflows, flooding Marla’s entire neighbourhood, she is ready to admit that she wants more for her child than she can possibly give right now.
Marla’s courage to ask for help and keep her mind open transforms everyone around her, cementing her relationships and proving to those who had doubted her that having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder does not make a person any less noble, wise or caring.
This is Spruit’s first novel after graduating from UBC’s Fine Arts Masters program. Copies of the book will be available at the launch and available online through her publisher Inanna or Amazon.
Maple Creek, the trio of Dave and Nancy Miller and Gary Ball, hit all the right notes with their acoustic, harmonic renderings of popular and lesser known tunes.
Melodic finger-picking, a steady, funky bass and soul-lifting harmonies are the band’s trademarks. Playing a unique blend of mostly folky Americana and bluesy country-rock, the trio covers classics and lesser-known tunes from the past five decades. Far from your standard arrangements, Maple Creek takes each song and makes it their own.
Comox Valley Poet Laureate, Natalie Nickerson, will also be sharing some of her heartfelt poetry. She has been serving as our Poet Laureate and promoting poetry and the arts in the valley since March.