In 1967, an unidentified flying object crashed into the waters of Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia. The incident came to be known as “Canada’s Roswell.” Anne DeGrace, a writer from Nelson, B.C., uses this bit of regional history as the starting point for her third novel.
The book begins when teenager Pocket Snow sees something splash down in the water of Perry’s Harbour. Local fishermen in the small town assume the event is a plane crash. Pocket, however, has other things to deal with. His mother, Merle, is dying of cancer, and Pocket, his father, and his uncle struggle to comfort her and come to terms with their own inevitable loss. Meanwhile, reports of the UFO bring interlopers to the tiny fishing community, including a young reporter from Ottawa, a psychic UFO chaser, a CBC film crew, and the military.
DeGrace concentrates on the people in the community and the ways their lives are affected by the intrusion of both the UFO and the outsiders who arrive in response. The UFO and its origins fade into the background as the novel progresses, ceding ground to the subtle transformations and growth of the characters.
DeGrace’s writing is moving and her characters speak in a believable regional dialect and Maritime rhythm: “First why dontcha go over to the house – it’s the yellow one right next door. Holler for Fred, he’s around back, and tell him who you are. He’ll show you the room, you can look around some after you eat.” The novel’s only missteps are the short pieces written in the second person that open each chapter. These scenes are unnecessary, and only detract from DeGrace’s strong characters and their realistic interactions with one another.