At first Curtis isn’t that worried when his mother doesn’t come home from her all-night job at the local gas bar. She’ll be back, he’s ten out of ten positive. After all, she promised she would never leave him again. Besides, Curtis is used to looking after himself and his five-year-old brother, Artie, and for a time he manages things on his own, keeping their mother’s absence a secret. He knows exactly what will happen if any of the teachers find out the truth. He remembers his last horrible foster home all too clearly.
Curtis gets pretty good at forging his mother’s signature, but when the credit card maxes out and the landlord starts pressuring for the rent, it’s more than a twelve-year-old can handle. Just in time, Curtis and Artie make friends with Mrs. Burt, the cranky, lonely old lady who lives across the street. And when the authorities start to investigate, the boys agree to go with Mrs. Burt to her remote cabin by the lake, and the three of them abscond in her 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
At the lake, the boys’ days are filled with wood-chopping, outhouse-building, fishing, swimming and Mrs. Burt’s wonderful cooking. But as the summer sails by, Curtis can’t stop thinking about his mother’s promise.
Then the weather grows colder, and Mrs. Burt seems to be preparing to spend the winter at the cabin, and Curtis starts to worry. Have they really all just absconded to the lake for a summer holiday? Or have the two boys been kidnapped?
- Winner of the 2013 Sheila E. Egoff Children’s Literature Award
- Shortlisted for the 2014 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award
- Shortlisted for a CLA 2013 Children’s Book of the Year Award
- An OLA 2012 Best Bet
- A Quill and Quire 2012 Book of the Year
- A Best Books for Kids and Teens 2012 Starred Selection
- A CBC’s The Next Chapter’s Summer 2012 Reading List Selection
- A Spring 2012 Junior Library Guild Selection
Publisher’s link: Middle of Nowhere at House of Anansi
Praise for Middle of Nowhere
Thoughtful, eventful and sharply realized, this poetic novel celebrates the resourcefulness of both the young and the old. Excellent fare.
— The Toronto Star
What could easily have become a heavy-handed tale of desperation is anything but thanks to Adderson’s ability to maintain a thread of humour throughout. The beauty of her delivery is that the comedy is never forced; rather, it is found in small, subtle moments – the kind readers will recognize as genuine.
Caroline Adderson’s storytelling emotionally engages the reader in Curtis’, Artie’s and Mrs. Burt’s fears of their nowheres, while offering hope about the nowhere in which the boys’ mother exists. Curtis’ voice is distinct, both trusting and hesitant, well-balanced with the tone of the narrative, as he learns that nowhere is just a product of a flawed perception. Nowhere is always somewhere – the chances are ten out of ten.
Two-time Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize winner Caroline Adderson is that rare bird: a writer who brings to the middle-grade novel the artistry and respect it deserves. These books are the exclusive province of children in that, on one hand, they do not require adult intermediaries to read them aloud, while on the other, they are in little danger of becoming crossover books or falling under too much scholarly scrutiny. These are the books that children choose for themselves and read in private, and they can be among the most influential books a reader ever experiences. To write them requires a particular skill set, one that Adderson exhibits in spades.
— Quill and Quire starred review
As the boys and Mrs. Burt spend the summer in the remotely situated cabin, the plot unfolds into a captivating story that engages the reader into the realm of heartache, skepticism, hope, and compassion. I would highly recommend Middle of Nowhere for school and public library collections. With depth and meaning, Adderson writes on coming of age and finding a sense of belonging. She poignantly chronicles the tribulations and triumphs of Curtis, Artie and Mrs. Burt.
… (N)ear perfect. Adderson introduces readers to sensitive protagonists whose poetic moments linger after the books are read.
—Canadian Children’s Booknews
Well told and with a bit of freshness, Middle of Nowhere is a solid book for 8-11 year olds and a nice addition to the children-abandoned-by-their-mothers genre.
The character dynamics are just right throughout — twelve year-old Curtis’s love for Artie and grief over their missing mother are fully realized; Artie’s impressionability is touching, as is Mrs. Burt’s desire to nurture the boys… Adderson’s success here is the subtly realistic tone (with comic notes) through the heavy moments and the moral conundrums.
—The Horn Book Magazine