Road to Bliss

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-09-22
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada
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Set against the vividly described Prairies in the heart of a cloistered religious sect, this is a gripping novel from a beloved Canadian author. Fifteen-year-old Jim Hobbs, alienated from life in Toronto, hitchhikes to the Prairies on a whim, where he finds shelter in an abandoned farmhouse. There, he encounters his neighbours, members of Majestic Farm, a group that abides by an old-fashioned, ultra-conservative set of rules enforced by their ruthless pastor. When Miriam, one of the pastor's daughters, secretly befriends Jim, they must hide their blossoming love for one another or face terrifying consequences. In helping Miriam to escape her religious imprisonment on the farm, Jim must risk everything. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Author Biography

Joan Clark is the author of three picture books and six novels for young readers. She has twice won the Geoffrey Bilson and the Mr. Christie Awards, as well as the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature.

Her most recent novels for adults are Latitudes of Melt and An Audience of Chairs. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.



Without his guitar, Jim Hobbs felt like the loneliest guy on the planet. Here he was on a sweltering August afternoon, parked on the running board of a transport truck waiting for the driver inside to wake up. Above him abc household movers was printed on a shiny white door. Not a lick of shade anywhere, not a tree in sight, nothing to shield him from the sun smashing down. Though he’d taken off the woollen tuque he wore winter and summer, sweat dripped from his forehead onto the pavement, where it sizzled like drops of water in a frying pan before being sucked up by the sun. Water. What he wouldn’t give for a drink of water. He saw a farmhouse way off in the distance, but if he hiked over there to ask for water he might miss a ride, and if he missed a ride he might change his mind, might turn around and go home. No way was he going home, at least not yet. It wasn’t the first time Jim had felt like leaving home, but it was the first time he’d made it this far, and he didn’t want to quit. He had something to prove, even though he wasn’t sure what it was. To pass the time, he drummed the empty water bottle against his knee before squeezing it until the plastic buckled and he tossed it away.

He glanced at his watch. Three o’clock. Six hours since he left the café forty miles back. It had taken six hours to travel forty miles, not what you’d call progress. The café was where he’d grabbed breakfast and used a pay phone to leave a message on the condo voice mail saying he was okay but wouldn’t be home again tonight. He didn’t expect anyone to answer the phone. His mother, Paula, was out of town for three days, and his sister seldom picked up the phone. He’d lost track of the number of times he’d watched Carla stand beside a ringing phone to read the incoming number before deciding if the caller was someone she was willing to talk to. Truth was, Jim didn’t want anyone to pick up the phone. He wasn’t ready for a conversation about why he’d decided not to go home but to clear out of the city instead. The situation at home was complicated in a way he couldn’t put into words. It was a normal family– parents split like Solly’s and Web’s. After six years he should be used to it, but he still missed his father. If Zack were around more often, maybe Jim wouldn’t get fed up living with two women. Maybe he wouldn’t feel so lonely. How could he explain all this stuff to his mother? If he said,I’m lonely, Mom. Paula would say,Why are you lonely?And he would have to tell her about missing Zack big time, and that would make her unhappy. The strange thing was he was lonelier at home than he was now, parked on the running board of a transit truck in the middle of nowhere. It didn’t make sense except for the fact that he hadchosento be alone, and there was no one around to make him feel like he shouldn’t be here. At home his sister often made him feel he shouldn’t be around. The night before the subway accident, after Paula had left with Ron and Jim had gone out for pizza, Carla had locked him out fortwo whole hoursso she and her snorky boyfriend could make out without having a younger brother around. After hammering on the door until their neighbour told him to pipe down, Jim sat on the hallway floor when he could have been in his bedroom trying out a new piece on his guitar. When Carla finally condescended to let him in, she said, “C’mon in, bro,” as if lock ing him out was normal. No apology– his sister didn’t go in for apologies. No point telling her she was a bitch. Whenever he used the B-word to her face, he got a lecture about being sexist. According to his sister, the entire English language was sexist, and the wordspriestandGodassumed to be male. Jim couldn’t be bothered arguing.

Excerpted from Road to Bliss by Joan Clark
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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