I finished my troika of Toronto novels with this Zoe Whittall book. Whittall is a writer I've known of for a while. I almost bought her first novel (Bottle Rocket Hearts) on a number of occasions but never quite got around to it. After reading Holding Still, I realize I will have to pick up her first book soon.
The story revolves around a group of friends and lovers who live around Parkdale, the slowly gentrifying neighbourhood near the west end of Queen Street. Billy - a one-time teen pop starlet - has split with her longtime girlfriend Maria. She is trying to go to school but suffers from severe panic attacks. Josh is a transgendered paramedic who is starting to grow apart from his girlfriend Amy (who is a filmmaker). There are a few other friends that come and go but these are the main three.
I'll be honest. The book took a while to grow on me. Each section starts with interludes describing an emergency that paramedics are attending to. There's a very detached feeling to these that had me guessing, trying to figure out why they were there. There was no need to question anything, though. Whittall knows what she's doing. The more I read, the more I realized how well she put this story together.
Stringing the last three books in the Canada Reads challenge together like I did was an interesting experience. I witnessed three different takes on Toronto (four if you count Consolation's split narrative) that had surprisingly little overlap. I wonder how many other Canadian cities this can can be said of? Montreal, for sure. Vancouver? Probably. Any others?