Michael Radon (The US Review of Books)
Toronto's Last Rainbow
In the peaceful, idyllic Toronto, Ontario neighborhood of Summerhill, family values and peaceful living are as prominent as the tendency for nosy neighbors and gossip. Summerhill is in a time of transition, however, in the Spring of 1969. Developers are looking to bring urban sprawl and concrete sameness to fold the smaller neighborhoods into the larger city. The Women's Liberation movement is moving at full speed and offering Canadian women access to abortions in a safe and medical manner rather than in secrecy and shame. Jennifer has already gone through the harrowing process and the procedure has left her unable to conceive. With divorce on the rise as well, Jennifer's husband Peter leaves her for someone else who can give him children. This is just one of the stories unfolding in Summerhill as it keeps up with the changes made by the country and its people.
The story told in this book exists in between two states at all times. The story is fictional, but the events that shape it and the neighborhood in which it takes place are all real. There is emotional turmoil and upheaval of the traditional family dynamic, but many of the characters are comically entertaining with their dialogue and frantic focus on benign issues like keeping up with soap operas. The end result is a slice-of-life story that is poignant without bringing the reader down, with rapid-fire dialogue and an accessible way to broach just how much changed in Canadian society in so short a time. The cast is as diverse as you would expect a real-life neighborhood to be, and that lends itself well to the storytelling and both the highs and lows of the story itself. Sometimes troubling, other times delightful, this story portrays humanity and history in an honest and entertaining fashion.