The Blue Moth Motel, by Olivia Robinson

Olivia Robinson’s debut novel The Blue Moth Motel, already longlisted for a major local literary award, is a lyrical coming-of-age story. The main character is Ingrid, who grows up with her sister Norah, their mother Laurel, and their mother’s partner Elena, in the titular motel owned by her grandmother Ada. The time frame shifts between Ingrid’s childhood, narrated in third-person, and Ingrid’s first-person story as a young woman living in London, England, trying to make a living and build a career as a singer.

The motel setting of Ingrid and Norah’s childhood is lovingly evoked: a small, again, slightly run-down hotel perched outside the epicentre of Prince Edward Island’s busy tourism industry (even though it’s a different part of Canada, I kept picturing the motel from Schitt’s Creek). Also beautifully sketched are the close and loving bonds between this unconventional family, and the way music becomes a thread that weaves through both girls’ lives. Though Ingrid has struck out on her own to start a new life for herself, she is drawn to home as the perhaps-mythical blue moths are drawn to firelight.

Olivia Robinson is a brilliant young writer who has a beautiful way with language, and I look forward to seeing what she does next.


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