Summary: A collection of short stories, Necking With Louise follows the experiences of Eric, a teenage boy living in Lashburg, Saskatchewan in 1965. He’s a brother, a boyfriend, a hockey player, a son, a grandson and a hard worker, and each story adds to the portrait of a young man finding his way through the pitfalls of growing up, as well as the experience of loss. With an introspective nature, a sense of wonder and responsibility, Eric meets each experience in a forthright and endearing way.
Number of Pages: 151
Age Range: 16-18
Review: Imagine a wall of a stranger’s photographs. Each picture is of a different experience, and all of the information you have about those experiences are contained in that photo. You must look at the pictures as closely as you can, glean what you can and move on, because there is no one to answer your questions or requests for further information.
Because that’s what photographs are: snapshots of life. They don’t tell the whole story, instead they capture a moment in time, preserving it to be examined, remembered and cherished in the future.
Necking With Louise by Rick Book is a collection of snapshots then, all of key moments in Eric’s teen years. Each story comes alive, and when the story is over it is time to pick up and consider the next photo. They are stories that sparkle with the vibrancy of growing up, told by Eric himself, a remarkably self-aware teen who examines himself and the deeper meaning of life on a continual basis. From his last midget hockey game to waiting out a blizzard with his horse Paddy in the woods to his first relationship and his first job, Eric’s perspective of each event is memorable and heartfelt. A notable character coupled with Book’s exquisite writing drives the novel, making it a valuable read for anyone who appreciates stories driven by character development, and vivid portrayals of life in other provinces, this one being Saskatchewan.
This is not a book for readers who like neat, clear endings and a fast-paced plot. It is for the contemplative; those who understand sometimes reading is about having the privilege of bearing witness to life. And that sometimes what is not being said is not as important as what is.
My absolute favourite snapshot was Sun Dogs, the story of Eric and his horse Paddy when they get stuck outside during a blizzard, but I truly enjoyed sifting through all of Book’s pictures of Eric. I encourage you to pick up the photo album and examine them for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
“Maybe it’s what happens to people caught in disasters. They start making tough decisions, but by then the decisions aren’t so tough. The idea just came. Maybe it had been there, lingering in the dark for a while. But I know what I had to do, knew what would increase my odds of seeing daylight.” – Eric in Sun Dogs from Necking With Louise by Rick Book, page 72
“Something in her question, in the way Louise held her head . . . I don;t know . . . suddenly made me look at us as if from a distance and high above. I looked down and saw my car on the dark road with two long V’s of lights probing the black ahead like some insect’s antennae. From up there we looked very tiny in the great darkness of the prairies. And our lives seemed so insignificant. It was such a big feeling that it made me a little sad, like we were all alone out here on this planet and I was very lucky to be with this girl.” – Eric in Necking With Louise from Necking With Louise by Rick Book, pages 87-88
Necking With Louise by Rick Book, is published by Red Deer Press, (1999).