cover image Balance of Fragile Things

Balance of Fragile Things

Olivia Chadha. Ashland Creek (, $17.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-61822-009-7

Chadha's absorbing first novel depicts a family of first-generation immigrants in upstate New York encountering the difficulties of survival, assimilation and longing for home. Teenager Vic Singh is intrigued with butterflies and notices odd happenings lately. His blog, recounting his sightings and meditations on nature, is a clever device furthering the plot. Vic has always been a victim of bullies because of his Sikh heritage but it doesn't bother him, especially after he falls into a sinkhole in the woods that leads him to his own secret place. Vic's sister, Isabella has been convinced by her best friend to be in the drama club play but her nervous vomiting worsens when Michelle leaves school with leukemia and Isabella must take over the lead. Their father, Ikpaul, is despairing about his business losses. His Kwicki Fill station is suffering because of the constant roadwork on his street. His Latvian wife, Maija fears the "sight" that sends her dreams of death and disaster, but won't foretell her family's future. The arrival of Ikpaul's father and Maija's mother transforms the family and gives them strength to confront looming danger but mutated butterflies, strange illnesses and a curious find in Vic's "hide" can't be ignored any longer. It's a delightful intrigue, with strong characters who develop and grow throughout the book as they face frightening turns. (Oct.)