Waiting Under Water
Waiting Under Water
I’m taking the really, really long way back home, walking a giant loop. I go from our beach down to the public beach. It’s busy this afternoon, like always. You can tell who the tourists are. They have a lot of stuff with them — towels and blankets and umbrellas and shade tents and folding chairs. They usually have big red or blue coolers of food and drinks. At the shore they freak out as if the water is made of just-melted ice cubes. Then when they leave they take a few of the egg-shaped rocks with them. The rocks make big bulges in the bottom of their beach bags.
I also see two men I don’t recognize as any of the 474 people who live in our village of St. David’s, and who really don’t look like tourists either. First of all, they’re both wearing jeans, which are definitely not beach clothes. Pants are pretty tricky to swim in. Their shirts are matching green golf shirts with white trim on the collars and sleeves. One of them is writing things down on a clipboard. The other has two different fancy cameras hanging across his chest. That guy is pointing, marking out the edges of a certain area of the beach like he’s trying to imagine something there. They talk and nod to each other as I get closer.
Hope, 12, is preparing to move with her parents from the idyllic coastal setting of St. David’s, New Brunswick, to Toronto, Ontario. Hope’s life in St David’s is comfortable and familiar. She has a best friend, Willa, a neighbour who fosters Hope’s artistic bent in quilting and a dependable community by the sea where she has stowed her sea glass – bits of glass which represent Hope’s memories, family and friends. Toronto is the opposite of Hope’s beloved small-town life – busy, high-priced, and noisy.
Hope takes a weekend trip to visit her father in Toronto. Her father has started his new job there, and Hope and he spend the weekend house-hunting. The stress of urban life and the impending change exacerbate Hope’s “tics”. This raises alarm bells for Hope’s parents sending them on a course of action to find an option for the family’s future.
This part of the plot is set against “Canada’s Tiniest Treasures”, a contest highlighting five small communities across Canada aired on the TV show “Rise and Shine Canada”. St. David’s is the first community to compete on “Canada’s Tiniest Treasures” by highlighting the best of what St. David’s has to offer tourists. Nason’s writing of the antics that transpire as St. David’s tries to show off the best of itself is hilarious. Among other exploits, the male host is doused with hot chowder, and the musical artist tries to perform as the tide rolls in and dismantles the stage.
Viewers of “Rise and Shine Canada” are encouraged to vote for their favorite “Tiniest Treasure”. The campaign to help St. David’s capture the title is led by Hope and her friend Willa. Over the years, Hope has been bullied by Brooklyn and Madison for her “tics”. The campaign brings the four girls together, and the bullying issues are remedied.
This first-person narrative occasionally uses language mature for a 12-year-old, but Hope’s naivete is sweet and engaging. The settings of St. David’s and Toronto are authentic, although walking out of the Toronto airport onto downtown streets is inaccurate. The other towns competing in “Canada’s Tiniest Treasures” are fictionalized. The plot is engaging but transparent, making for a gentle read which is most welcome in the Covidian times in which we find ourselves navigating.
Ruth McMahon is professional librarian working in a Lethbridge, Alberta high school and is Co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Book Award Committee.