cover image From Up River and for One Night Only

From Up River and for One Night Only

Brett Josef Grubisic. Now or Never (LitDistCo, dist.), $21.95 trade paper (347p) ISBN 978-1-988098-07-4

Grubisic (This Location of Unknown Possibilities) dives deeply into nostalgia in this autobiographical coming-of-age story. Four teenage friends dream big dreams in a small British Columbian town in the 1980s. Gordyn, Dee, Em, and Jay are two sets of siblings who exist on the outer edges of their high school's social circles. Their immediate goal is to form a New Wave cover band that can win an upcoming Battle of the Bands contest in nearby Bottlesburg, but their sights are set on glamorous rock-and-roll careers in London, Paris, and New York. With little money, experience, or talent, the four struggle to acquire instruments and decide what music to play. Along the way, they test the waters of sexuality and find some unusual ways to make money. Though Grubisic's carefully crafted descriptions of the teens' world can slow the narrative and cause it to meander, they provide much of the book's dark humor. This excursion into the '80s will be immersive for readers who remember the decade fondly; the story of dreamers pushing against the confines of conventionality and limited expectations will resonate more broadly. (Apr.)