About Heather

Heather has lived on a Canadian Gulf Island for most of her life, but when she was ten or so she lived on a farm in Southern Ontario and that experience is fictionalized in the Patti Stories. However, many of Patti's experiences are a blend of that setting and of raising her own family of three girls in a rural setting on Saltspring Island. These stories draw on the realities of both places and it is this that gives Heather's writing that extra ring of truth.

Heather has been a teacher, a CUSO volunteer in South America, and has sailed the Pacific in a wooden schooner. She has two BA s from the University of Victoria, in English and Psychology and in Creative Writing. She has also published poetry and magazine articles.

She is presently writing an adult novel set on the West Coast.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Joan's Summer. A way through grief.

Barbara Coloroso was interviewed today on CBC about grieving ( her new book is 'Parenting through Crisis') and as I listened I realized that Heather's book 'Joan's Summer', the third in the Patti series, fitted into her list of things to do for children ( and indeed anyone) who were involved in the grieving process.

Heather said that while her book was written as she says, “swept up in the character with no grand teaching scheme in mind”it did seem to hit every point that Coloroso made. “Simply common sense.” Heather says, but as a once family and youth counsellor myself I know that common sense is often in reality crowded out by those other kinds of sense that can create more knots than they untie in personalities, especially during a grieving process. In the past I have used Coloroso's books to help with counselling in a variety of situations.

Twelve year old Joan, the mainstay of her family as her single mother struggles with a serious heart problem is suddenly faced with the death of her mother and freed from her family role of raising her siblings. Her grief is both simple and complicated; complicated because she has not only lost her mother but also her role in life, a very big and unfair role as caregiver for all, but an important part of her identity nonetheless. 'Joan's Summer' deals with grief and presents a way through it. It presents grief as a part of Joan's life, a constructive part that can lead her through and into a new beginning rather than a dark valley of misery with no redeeming features.

Anyone who has read the first two Patti books in this series will recognize Patti's combination of willing helpfulness for Joan with angry feelings of resentment. Patti acts and speaks for us. As we read however we can see the larger picture; through Joan, Patti's parents and brother Jamie and through our own life experience. We read, and think and learn whether as child or adult or as someone who reads the book and leads children through understanding the complexities of human experience. Grief in any form is part of being alive. Joan grieves and leads us all through it in a constructive and realistic way.

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