Porcupine, a young adult book by Meg Tilly, has been on my TBR shelf for over a decade. I bought it from her at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington over a decade ago. She refused to sign my book but very generously gave me the name and phone number of her agent. I finally read it this afternoon.
At the time, Ms. Tilly was living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She had put her award-winning acting career on the back-burner to rear her children. Her kids are grown now, and she’s a grandmother. She lives in Toronto with her husband Don Calame and has resumed her acting career.
Porcupine is about Jacqueline “Jack” Cooper, a tomboy who lives in Newfoundland. Her father is killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, and her mother dissolves into grief and depression. She pawns her jewelry to pay for a trip to her grandmother’s farm in the prairies of Alberta, Canada. Jack, Tessa, and Simon didn’t know they had a great-grandmother, and she didn’t know about them either. Let’s just say the welcome mat wasn’t outside the front door. It isn’t long before their mother disappears and abandons her children.
The kids are terrified their great-grandmother will decamp to Serenity Valley, a luxurious retirement home. Jack’s strategy is to help with the chores and persuade her sister and brother to be on their best behavior. She’s brave and protective. She’s kind to her great-granny. She bonds with a mother hen and takes her siblings fishing. She kills a rattlesnake. Her mother doesn’t show up for her thirteenth birthday celebration. She becomes a cult icon when she takes on the school bully.
Although the book was written for young adults, I loved it. I laughed and cried. And, I fell in love with Jacqueline’s spunk and attitude. I wanted to cheer for her and hoped she had a wonderful life. Buy it for your kids and read it yourself. It is a warm reminder that children need love and support more than they need stuff.