cover image A Series of Small Maneuvers

A Series of Small Maneuvers

Eliot Treichel. Portland State Univ./Ooligan, $14.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1- 932010-79-4

After her father’s death, stemming from an accident while exploring the remote Rio Tinto in New Mexico, 15-year-old Emma Wilson travels alone through rapids and dangerous temperatures to safety. But even at home with her grieving mother and younger sister, Emma cannot find peace after an incident she takes responsibility for (“Please don’t ever tell me that accidents just happen”), no matter what her family and the police say. Treichel (Close Is Fine) switches between Emma’s past and present, recounting her memories of an emotional and contradictory father on the verge of divorce, her time on the river, and her difficult readjustment to school and friends, all while focusing on language that underlines the beauty of the natural world instilled in Emma by her father (“The early morning light was the color of ripe peaches”). While technical descriptions of canoeing and camping may stymie outdoor novices, Treichel’s realistic and compelling characterization of Emma highlights a maturity into adulthood that offers no easy solutions to the difficulties of grief, but celebrates the best of her family. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)