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Girl in Shades

Girl in Shades

No relation

ECW Press

Baggio, Allison




2013-05-07 11:27:04: Nomination was created
2013-05-07 17:05:23: payment successful from Paypal (order 65)

Erin Creasey

Sales and Marketing Director

ECW Press


Feature film


Allison Baggio’s fiction and commentaries have appeared in publications including Room, subTerrain, Today’s Parent and the Toronto Star. She is also the author of short story collection In the Body. She lives in Whitby, ON.

Audiobook rights sold to Audible. According to Canadian Family, “This book was quick to read. I enjoyed it, though it's not a feel-good book—it's profoundly sad. It would be a great read for a book club because there are so many layers.” And Chatelaine, “An immensely satisfying coming-of-age tale and a remarkable first novel.”

A young girl can see auras and sometimes read minds, but she wants most to understand her parents, especially her eccentric mother dying of cancer.

11-year-old Maya can see auras and catch snippets of others’ thoughts, but that doesn’t help her understand her mother, Marigold, who is dying of cancer, and comes to be considered a prophet as she refuses treatment and awaits death in a teepee in the family’s backyard. After Maya loses her mother, she discovers her father is not her biological father, and sets out on a journey to India find the man her mother loved and lost, and hopefully find herself along the way.

At 11, Maya is at an interesting age: as with her snippets of telepathy, she gleans some things about the adult world, but doesn’t get the full picture. She is charmingly innocent, writing a letter to pop star Corey Hart to help her with her problems, but eventually she has to sort them out herself.
Maya’s mother, Marigold, is a fascinating character. She is desperate for enlightenment: she goes to library lectures on making money and gardening as part of her home schooling, she attends AA meetings even though she’s never had more than two drinks at a time, and she spreads the words of the Bhagavad Gita with flyers on Saskatoon’s street corners. From her makeshift teepee, she becomes a source of enlightenment, inspiring neighbours and strangers, though remaining a mystery to her daughter and husband. When Maya discovers her mother’s journals, she discovers an illicit love affair in Marigold’s past.

Even with auras and a dash of telepathy, at its heart Girl in Shades has an everyday focus: trying to understand our parents, and thus ourselves — something especially true for children who aren’t raised by both of their birth parents and/or who lose a parent early in life, as Maya does. Maya’s parents’ relationship also offers and interesting love triangle and a meditation on the intersections of love and responsibility.

Girl in Shades is firmly rooted in the 1980s, giving it a very specific, and often nostalgic temporal backdrop, and offers the opportunity for rich and varied settings, from Saskatoon to Toronto to India. Maya’s auras could add an interesting, though simple visual flourish.

Female Teens
Women 18–34
Women 35–54

Girl in Shades is My Girl with a magical twist and set in Canada in the 1980s.

The air around my mother’s face glows white as she starts to die. It’s a sparkling white that sucks her in, a lonely white because I know I’m the only one who can see it. I’ve seen colour around people all my life, but never white. This white seems more permanent than flashes of orange or strokes of pink. This white fills in the space inches above my mother’s head in every direction, blinding me, covering her up like she’s not there at all. I squint to try and dim it but it shines stronger through my eyelashes, humming its way into my skull.
It hardly hurts anymore, she says then, though her lips don’t move
and no sound comes out. I’m glad to hear inside her head, but I
don’t know if she’s telling the truth. For the last six months I’ve been startled by snippets of what other people are thinking — doctors, teachers, strangers — I can’t tell if the words are real or if I’m making them up, but when they come from my mother I listen harder. Her thoughts are the only ones I really want to hear, especially now.
I pull the hospital blanket up. Underneath, her arms have weakened and the iciness I felt yesterday in her hands has moved into the room around us. The nurses notice only the temperature from her fever, her matted hair, and the dirt under her nails when she pulls at the skin on her sunken face.
My mother’s eyelids flutter open and closed with each gasping
breath she takes. When they are open, she seems to be looking past the white light to something only she can see. When they are closed, I feel the invisible part of her pulling away, snapping imaginary
strings connecting her to the sky.
I adjust the plant beside my mother’s bed, the one with the
yellow flowers matching her skin. One nurse said it would be better
on the windowsill, but when she stopped coming around I moved
it to the bedside table, close enough so it could almost touch my
mother’s face if she rolled the right way. And now, it almost does. I
wish its tiny green fingers would spread and reach out to her, comfort her with the garden smell from its soft faces.
I tell her then that she can go, and I force myself to smile even
though I don’t mean it. I run my fingertip over the collar of her
mint-green hospital gown and then look at the ceiling, wondering if
she’s up there yet, watching me.

Sweetly funny and deeply perceptive, Girl in Shades offers a fresh take on what it is to grow up and discover who you really are.

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