Strange Heaven
by Lynn Coady
Goose Lane Editions, 1998.

Reviewed by Michael Bryson

And you thought your family was crazy. Pick up Lynn Coady's award-winning first novel and learn something new about dysfunctional family systems. Coady's protagonist is an unwed teenage mom who gives her baby up for adoption then plops herself in a mental institution. Halfway through the novel the girl goes home for Christmas and the reader sees her family ain't any more sane than her fellow asylum inmates. This is a book with more honesty and grit that a hundred other first novels. It deservedly won Coady the Air Canada Award (for writers under 30) and snared a nomination for the Governor General's Award, Canada's top literary prize. A marvelous new voice out of the Maritimes. A great book. Read it!

Michael Bryson is the editor of The Danforth Review.