cover image Little Bastards in Springtime

Little Bastards in Springtime

Katja Rudolph. HarperCollins Canada, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-44340-886-8

In this absorbing debut novel that begins in 1992, 11-year-old Sarajevan Jevrem Andric lives through the destruction of both his childhood and his country. His young mind is shaped by the ideals of his intellectual parents and grandmother, Baka, a former World War II partisan. The family's belief that peace will prevail is destroyed as Sarajevo is besieged, and Jevrem's father and brother perish while defending the city. The surviving family members settle as refugees in Toronto where Jevrem spends his time committing acts of theft and violence with his "bastard" gang of fellow refugees. After his grandmother's death, Jevrem is motivated%E2%80%94somewhat abruptly%E2%80%94to honor her idealism through random, unusual acts of kindness. This newfound direction is interrupted by a stint in juvenile detention from which he escapes to embark on a road odyssey that ends far from his Bosnian beginnings. Rudolph's writing is spare and touched by moments of incandescent lyricism. Jevrem's voice is convincing, jumping from cynicism to thoughtfulness. Rudolph skillfully conveys the pain of a wounded young man whose present is constantly assaulted by his past. The possibility of an untroubled future fuels the narrative, and the reader is compelled to witness Jevrem's journey at every point. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (June)