The Outlook Review - Racing Home
Reviewed by: Derek Ruttle
Area Author Launches New Book
An author from the local region has launched a new book that deals with rural life in the Canadian west more than 100 years ago.
Adele Dueck, who lives in Lucky Lake, appeared at the Outlook Community Library on Tuesday, June 7 to celebrate the release of her new novel, Racing Home. She spoke to a small gathering of people about the history contained in the book, including many nods to the town of Outlook's past in a story about a family of Norwegian immigrants leaving home and trying to make a life for themselves in the barren, wide open spaces of the Canadian Prairies.
The book tells the tale from the viewpoint of 12-year old Erik, an ambitious young boy trying to face the burdens of getting used to pioneer life in the prairies in the year 1908. He doesn't want to leave the family farm in Norway, but his own clan believe they'll be able to live a prosperous life off their own land in Canada. Erik also has to come to terms with his mother's new husband, Rolf, being a part of his life, but he's sure that Rolf is keeping a secret from his new family. Rolf's brother has a son, Olaf, that looks a whole lot like Erik. The boys start to get along through their efforts in saving Tapper, an injured horse that gets well enough to enter a race and turns out to be a winner.
Speaking to those in attendance in Outlook, Dueck provided much back story on the characters, story development and the influences behind Racing Home. Though the community in the book is called Green Valley, Dueck said that it was very much inspired by Outlook and its own history, including its approximate land location close to the South Saskatchewan River and many landmark events of the past such as the arrival of the first train and the building of new businesses.
Racing Home is a book geared to young readers, but adults may enjoy it as it deals with a number of more mature conflicts, including issues of child abandonment.
Dueck says there's no agenda with her books, which include other titles such as Anywhere But Here and Nettie's Journey, but she does hope younger readers will gain a better understanding of what life was like for people in this province a century ago.
"Work hard you will succeed?" joked Adele, on any message her book has. "I don't really write a book for a message, I write a book to entertain and to tell stories that I think kids don't know. I think that for modern kids, they can't even imagine this kind of life; this boy (in the book) went out and built his own sod house. Modern kids haven't a clue about that kind of life. I'd like them to know history becaues it shows what came before us to get to this point."
Dueck said she just wanted to write something from the small town area point of view.
"I don't believe that there are enough stories about Saskatchewan and I don't believe there are enough books where kids can read about their own lives, but I want to write rural stories, and that's what I do," she said. "I started that with my own children because they were bringing home books that were English or American and almot all cities, and I wanted to write something rural."
Adele made sure to do some fact-checking when it came to writing Racing Home, which she says started in July 2007. As a result, the novel mirrors much of what reality was like for people trying to make a living in the balding sprawls of the prairies in Saskatchewan, something Dueck says is the point of it all.
"It grew out of reality beecause I'm basing it on Outlook and it's history, but it grew right out of it because I didn't stick to history," she said. "It's not Outlook and if you go looking for it, you'll find some things aren't real. But almost everything in there is historically accurate; I research, I try to have accuracy in the way people did things and the choices they were forced to make. It may not exactly be this town's history, but it is the history of the Prairies."