Pedal

Chelsea Rooney. Caitlin (Midpoint, U.S. dist.; Raincoast, Canadian dist.), $21.95 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-927575-56-7
Rooney’s novel hits with a weight and importance not achieved by many debuts. Its protagonist, Julia, is working on her master’s thesis in psychology, studying a group she names “molestas”—women who have experienced “non-physically painful molestation.” Julia herself was molested at a young age by the father she refers to only as Dirtbag. She plans to cycle from Vancouver, B.C., to Kingston, Ontario, charting Dirtbag’s last known addresses, to see if she can better understand his character—and perhaps learn something more about herself. Julia is accompanied by Smirks, her best friend’s new roommate, whom she discovers harbors dark secrets of his own. This is not an easy read. Julia is brash and sometimes violent, and the subject matter is consistently unnerving. But readers who push through will find an intelligent, incredibly well reasoned book that manages to uncover humanity in the internal struggle potentially faced by some pedophiles. The novel does stumble in a few spots—some of its narrative coincidences strain plausibility, and the budding romantic relationship between Julia and Smirks is told but not shown—but these minor shortcomings do not diminish what is an otherwise gripping, disquieting novel. Agent: John Pearce, Westwood Creative Artists. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2016
Release date: 10/01/2014
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