Author: Loghan Paylor
Published by: Random House Canada on Jan. 30, 2024
Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Penguin Random House Canada
Book Rating: 8.5/10
Evocative, magical and luminously written, The Cure for Drowning is not only a brilliant, boundary-pushing love story but a Canadian historical novel that boldly centres queer and non-binary characters in unprecedented ways.
Born Kathleen to an immigrant Irish farming family in southern Ontario, Kit McNair has been a troublesome changeling since, at ten, they fell through the river ice and drowned—only to be nursed back to life by their mother’s Celtic magic. A daredevil in boy’s clothes, Kit chafes at every aspect of a farmgirl’s life, driving that same mother to distraction with worry about where Kit will ever fit in. When Rebekah Kromer, an elegant German-Canadian doctor’s daughter, moves to town with her parents in April 1939, Rebekah has no doubt as to who 19-year-old Kit is. Soon she and Kit, and Kit’s older brother, Landon, are drawn tight in a love triangle that will tear them and their families apart, and send each of them off on a separate path to war.
Landon signs up for the Navy. Kit, now known as Christopher, joins the Royal Air Force, becoming a bomber navigator relied on for his luck and courage. Rebekah serves with naval intelligence in Halifax, until one more collision with Landon changes the course of her life and draws her back to the McNair farm—a place where she’d once known love. Fallen on even harder times, the McNairs welcome all the help she is able to give, and she believes she has found peace at last. Until, with the war over, Kit and Landon return home.
Told in the vivid, unforgettable voices of Kit and Rebekah, The Cure for Drowning is a powerfully engrossing novel that imagines a history that is truer than true.
Tempestuous, tender, and immersive!
The Cure for Drowning is a fresh, absorbing tale set in Southern Ontario during the early 1940s that takes us into the lives of three main characters. Kit, a young adventurous spirit who finds the love of their life in the daughter of the new local doctor; Landon, Kit’s older brother who is confident and charming and someone who follows his head more than his heart; and Rebekah, a young woman who feels torn between what society deems is appropriate and the feelings she has for both of the McNair siblings.
The writing is passionate and moving. The characters are hopeful, hesitant, and endearing. And the plot is an engaging, touching tale about life, loss, friendship, family, hope, heartbreak, tragedy, destiny, sexual identity, gender fluidity, fate, war, and enduring love.
Overall, The Cure for Drowning is a captivating, well-written, richly described debut by Paylor that highlights that love comes in many forms and is a beautiful reminder that to love and be loved is one of humanity’s most fundamental needs that transcends gender, sex, race, religion, and socioeconomics.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.