• Why I’m Here

Why I’m Here


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978-1-77439-049-8 | 2022 May | 288 Pages


Fifteen-year-old Gale is desperate to get out of Whitehorse, a fact that is immediately clear to counsellor Helen Cotillard when Gale walks into her office with her reluctant stepmother. It’s 1995, and one counselling agency for kids and families serves all of the Yukon. Gale has been having anxiety attacks, the last one so severe it landed her in the hospital.

Helen soon begins to realize that Gale’s distress at being separated from her little sister Buddie too closely parallels a calamity from her own past. This tragic similarity leaves Helen uneasy about her profession and her ability to help her clients. When Gale does escape back to her home in Cobalt, Ontario, to protect Buddie from their brutal mother, she risks her own future.

Through arresting, compelling images, Jill Frayne shows both the fierce beauty of the Yukon, and the damaged, enduring landscapes of two human hearts.

“From the boreal forests of the Yukon to Canadian Shield country in Ontario, Frayne writes with graceful, devastating power about the hold of place and family on people, and the way love runs strange and wayward and deep through both. The result is a novel with all the clean lines and stark beauty of a glacier, revealing the crevasses that tear lives apart but also, despite everything, link them together.”
— Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders

“I loved reading this exquisite portrait of a therapist’s relationship to a teenage girl whose violent past has followed her to the Yukon, where the landscape can both wound and heal. Jill Frayne writes about the far North with the same wisdom and tenderness she brings to the lives of her unforgettable characters.”
— Marni Jackson, author of Don't I Know You?

“The ‘here’ in the title is the clue: Why I’m Here is about place. To those in the South, Yukon is landscape. To those who live there, it's a tough, beautiful, and ultimately forgiving embrace. The challenges Frayne’s characters face in this tough, beautiful and forgiving novel don’t come from the land, but from their own inability to leave their pasts behind.”
— Wayne Grady, author of The Good Father

“What a perfect title Jill Frayne chose for her wonderful novel. The ‘here' of Why I’m Here first suggests physical places, and Frayne’s descriptions of Whitehorse and Atlin, BC, are irresistibly seductive. She is a master of inner weather as well as outer: ‘here' is also home, a safe place, a place where you are important. More than one daughter in this book searches for home, and Frayne skillfully unspools the complicated relationship between a troubled girl and her counsellor. As for the revelatory ending, it is one of the most surprising and satisfying conclusions I have read in years.”
— Katherine Ashenburg, author of Sofie & Cecilia and Her Turn

“Frayne is masterful in weaving together the internal and external worlds. She builds them with equal beauty and complexity using language as clear and fresh as the northern landscapes she describes. Why I’m Here is vivid, powerful, and a skilled reflection on life itself. Frayne shows us our own fallibility—and pathways through it—with careful attention.”
— Jennifer Kingsley, author of Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild

Why I’m Here is a brave novel about how families define people’s lives and destinies.”
— Jeremiah Rood for Foreword Reviews (full review)

I loved this story and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a glimpse into counselling, the isolation of Whitehorse, or a story about the dynamics and importance of family.”
— Erica Wiggins, Cloud Lake Literary (full review)

Truly an exceptional read...well paced and beautifully written. It is definitely a book you need on your shelf.”
— Stacey Assu, The Lioness of Literacy Blog

“[a] combination of the strong pull of family, overwhelming heartache and puzzling mystery ... [t]he book is a compelling read set against the fierce splendour of the Yukon.”
— Valerie Green, The BC Review (full review)

"[a] balm for any dislodged northerner ... or anyone who has struggled to reclaim a sense of belonging in a new location."
— Sherry Coffey, The Fiddlehead (full review)

”Frayne’s writing brings to life the beauty and terror of the North. At once breathtaking and deadly, the frozen and unforgiving land is to be loved and feared.”
— Jaaron Collins, Worn Pages and Ink (full review)