Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Sailor Girl

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Sailor Girl

The Porcupine's Quill, 2008

Sailor Girl is both coming-of-age tale and love poem to the natural world. Set on the grainboats of Canada's Great Lakes in the summer of 1981, it follows the literal and figurative journey of Kate McLeod, a rebellious photography student looking to earn money for school. Using tight, salty dialogue and gripping description, the book renders a sharp-edged portrait of life lived on the edges of society. It is also a love story in which a middle-class girl finds a deep connection with the unruly young men and tough-minded women of the lakes. Life on the water is physically and socially restrictive, and Kate kicks against the rules, both written and unwritten. Sailor Girl is a uniquely Canadian story, one that preserves a vanishing part of our heritage.

"A powerful debut that depicts the commotion and raw intensity of youth, and -- without ever romanticizing -- captures the romance of the sweetwater seas, those 'Great Lakes like giant footprints climbing to the centre of the continent.' Hardly a page passes without a fresh image or metaphor, a striking phrase or insight -- and insight above all, because this is an honest novel. And one to savour." - Steven Heighton, author of The Shadow Boxer

"Olson understands the appeal of tough sex and wide open water. She's got a great ear, too. Here is a book about a girl rebel written in prose that cuts to the quick." - Katherine Govier, author of Three Views of Crystal Water

"I'd go anywhere with Kate McLeod, the raunchy and reckless protagonist of Sailor Girl. Finally a Canlit heroine who shows us that girls can drink like fish, work like dogs, swear like sailors and still be good to the bone. Once you have clanked beer mugs with Kate, I guarantee you will take her to bed and not put her down till dawn." - Leah McLaren, author of The Continuity Girl