After moving into a dank and drafty basement suite in West Edmonton with her truck- driving father, nasty stepmother and taciturn twin brother, Ash, seventeen-year-old Greta doesn’t have high expectations for her last year of high school. When she blacks out at a party and is told the next day that she’s had sex, she thinks things can’t get any worse. She’s wrong.
While Greta deals with the confusion and shame of that night, her stepmother and father choose that moment to disappear, abandoning Ash and Greta to the mercy of their peculiar landlord, Elgin, who lives upstairs. Even as Greta struggles to make sense of what happened to her, she finds herself enjoying her new and very eccentric family, who provide the shelter and support that has long been absent from her life. Much to Greta’s surprise, she realizes there is still kindness in the world—and hope.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Marijuana, Mild language, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Sexual assault
Booklist (February 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Greta, 17, is already trying to deal with a recent trauma—date rape—on her own, when her father and stepmother abandon her and her twin brother, Ash, in their basement apartment. Now she has to deal with her troubles internally while externally trying to survive. Unexpected help arrives in the form of their elderly and eccentric landlord, Elgin; his tough-talking daughter, Alice; and Nate, a classmate who lives across the street. Greta and Ash eke out their existence and continue with school, a form of torture for Greta as she tries to avoid her former “in group” friends. Finally, the threads come together in an affirming resolution. Lawrence’s novel is a subtle riff on Hansel and Gretel: abandonment by parents; hope represented by a trail of crumbs to lead her out of the labyrinth of her trauma; and the cabin where the date rape occurs is like the gingerbread house, promising on the outside but concealing a threat. With realistic and appealing characters and a delicately constructed plot, this is a well-told story of strength, grace, and growth.
Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2019)
Fire up your Coleman lanterns: Greta needs all the light and warmth she can get in this story of abandonment, poverty, and sexual assault. Greta and her twin, Ash, have every element of a tragic life: a very wicked stepmother, a spineless and pathetic father, and being abandoned in the middle of a brutal Edmonton winter with no heat except from an oven, no food, and no rent money. As if that wasn’t enough, Greta is also suffering following a sexual assault and the subsequent ostracism and bullying by the cool kids at her high school. The cast of supporting characters in Greta’s story have enough emotional issues to keep a team of psychologists working around the clock: Greta’s withdrawn brother, an elderly, track-shorts–wearing landlord, his estranged tough-talking daughter, and a lonely neighbor kid. Greta longs to re-create a family that has only been a memory for years but still possesses enough grit to get some sense of closure and justice from those who harmed her. Nothing is candy-coated: The writing includes the blunt language one would expect in this treatment of the very important topics of sexual assault and victim blaming that will resonate with and inform readers. Main characters present as white, but names suggest some diversity among Greta’s classmates. Lawrence (Rodent, 2016) has an admirable relationship with the written word, and after many chapters of sharp edges and dark corners, readers will discover reason for hope. (afterword) (Fiction. 14-19)
About the Author
Lisa J. Lawrence grew up as a free-range kid in small towns in British Columbia and Alberta. She currently works as a writer and Spanish teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives with her husband and three children. Her first novel, Rodent, was nominated for numerous awards.
Around the Web
Trail of Crumbs on Amazon
Trail of Crumbs on Barnes and Noble
Trail of Crumbs on Goodreads
Trail of Crumbs on LibraryThing
Trail of Crumbs Publisher Page