Fall 2015: Between The Cracks She Fell
Between The Cracks She Fell begins with Joscelyn, a twenty-nine-year-old British Canadian who loses her boyfriend, her job and her house.
She takes up residence in an abandoned Islamic school with The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie for company and she finds a journal penned by tormented teenager Imran Ali who suffers the abuse of social media bullying at the hands of his peers, which sets him irrevocably on the path of Islamic Fundamentalism and jihad.
Joscelyn strikes up a strange and destructive relationship with Lenny, the murderous red-headed power-mongering, drug dealing, twenty-something rancid king of a small gang.
She also befriends beautiful homeless Emma who is living out of a stolen car with her Newfoundland dog. Emma proclaims to be on the run from a crazy cokehead boyfriend but the truth about her sociopathic and narcissistic lies are slowly uncovered by Joscelyn.
The circle of unforgettably vivid and compelling characters broadens to include Ashley, a gay disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness whose middle-aged lover, Rob, is a real-estate scam artist with ties to the biker gangs of Montreal.
Joscelyn’s boyfriend, a former pot-head, reappears as a Reborn Christian, determined to banish the demons from Joscelyn’s heart. He also holds the key to solving the mystery of the disappearance of Joscelyn’s biological father; Joscelyn believes that her mother murdered her father when she was six years old.
A suspenseful and lyrical read, Between The Cracks She Fell is a powerful-first person narrative about the explosive consequences of betrayal, survival in troubled times and the pervasiveness of religious domination.
80 000 words
Fast Moving And Compelling, Home is the Landscape Inside Where You Find Yourself
Fast moving and compelling, Between the Cracks She Fell explores the complexities of relationships, religions and the various selves within that help us survive when we “fall” between the cracks. Through the eyes of the likable and lively narrator Joss and her ever-growing web of new and past relationships, we discover that home is not confined to a physical place; it’s the landscape inside where you find yourself. Once again, de Nikolits exhibits her storytelling strengths by weaving various plot strands together, bringing her protagonist to a greater truth.
—Catherine Graham, Her Red Hair Rises With The Wings Of Insects (Wolsak And Wynn)
Witness to Ever Thinning Spaces Among The Divine Secrets of Others
Jolted by where Jocelyn begins, then utterly surprised and in awe of where she goes, I found the journey of a buoyant, playful woman embracing her own experiment of living. Joss’ attitude becomes evermore rich and grooves without destination. Hers has no absolutes! In spite of her returns to Tim Hortons, dingy motels and a rampant lust for her misguided lover, Jocelyn stubbornly derails relinquishing with her past in the attempt to keep a strait lid on her ‘almost 30’ life. In her refusal to part with a dated home and roots she’s outgrown, she scraps to ‘plaster up’ the walls of a romanticized self.
Between The Cracks She Fell has a fierce and passionate Joss eroding false identity by choosing to live among abandoned ruins. In this place, a young woman becomes witness to ever thinning spaces among the divine secrets of others, now lost to insanity, and finds a comfortable inner language that translates her abundant wishes to hold her own style of love and longing. Jocelyn is Canadian kindness.
—Sonia Di Placido, Exultation in Cadmium Red (Guernica)
Well Plotted Psychological Suspense, A Great Read
As usual from Lisa de Nikolits, a well-plotted story, grippingly told. I was really impressed by the use of the Qu'ran and The Satanic Verses – it's as if Between The Cracks She Fell is a response to Salman Rushdie’s work.
Between The Cracks She Fell reminds me of the books I've read by Ruth Rendell when she's writing as "Barbara Vine". Psychological suspense, is best way to describe them.
Between The Cracks She Fell is a great read. I wonder what Joss will do next?
— Terri Favro, author of The Proxy Bride
Compelling, Multi-layered, Bold and Engaging
Between The Cracks She Fell is a whirligig-ride into the dark recesses of “what-next?” It is compelling and multi-layered, encompassing Joss' sustaining and vigorous book-life identity and her bold, engaging lustiness.
This eerie odyssey is interspersed with wry humour and sensual pleasure in scrubbed cleanliness and in camaraderie, soothed by good coffee and favourite food and energized by nature.
I could not put this shape-shifting tale down. I became engrossed by the aspects of “outsiderism” and beguiled by the powerful imagery of abandoned buildings … these deserted remnants destructively rage-defiled by predators, but revered and honoured by disciples of the derelict … becoming sanctuary-like when associated to past good times.
By acknowledging poignant feelings of pain and loss, Joss evokes tantalizing connections and memories that well up alongside menacing aspects of her somewhat chilling and risky, now. Her mode of existence becomes makeshift and transitional beyond perceived societal normalcy. It is a sharp departure from her previous “safe-dom.”
Joss, tender at heart and fast learning to do tough, is challenged by this alternate existence, encumbered with enigma, deception, betrayal and exploitation. There are ongoing undercurrents of lurking danger and glimpses of things baffling, marginal and mangled. There are deeds obscured, or darkly hinted at, as Joss is plunged into a world inhabited largely by outsiders.
It is an edgy story, both sinister and malevolent, along with warm and compassionate bonds being forged. This is fine story-telling. I was drawn to the cast of charismatic characters who “people” Joss' journey and their ensuing “choice making.” The insightful scrutiny is laced with authentic inserts, there is a thought-provoking exploration of gender, genes, nurture, liberty, commitment, ideologies and doctrines of faith and worship. It is a penetrating and twisty tale of Joss' insurrection. —Shirley McDaniel, Artist
It's Beautifully Done
"I finished reading your book, and Lisa I loved it!! It's just done perfectly, and I loved the end. The juxtaposition between Imran and Shayne's character reinforces that it's not any particular religion that is 'bad'. Both the characters lost control of their lives, and that's when they lost the delicate balance between themselves and their religion. It's the idea that when everything else in your life is spiraling out of control, you'll grasp onto any idea for it to all make sense again and the whole book is based on this idea. In this case, both of them grabbed onto religion. It's beautifully done." —Samia Akhtar
“A lyrical and deeply moving examination of emotional pain and faith on a collision course with organized religion. Lisa de Nikolits' highly believable and human characters are outsiders struggling to find meaning, and perhaps hope, in contemporary urban society. With a deft and confident clarity of style, she explores the complex interplay of faith, crime and social isolation. Highly recommended.”
—M. H. Callway, award-winning author of Windigo Fire (Seraphim Editions)
Questions The Stability of Entitled Faith and Displays Strength in the Conviction of Personal Will
Lisa de Nikolits is an in-depth writer who not only explores her characters, but the environment they find themselves in. Joscelyn is a self-sufficient, feisty woman who must find her way in the world. In a diary-like style Joscelyn imparts to the reader her thoughts, her experiences, and most of all, how the world around her affects her.
Utilizing Joycean techniques of dialogue and a relatable prose, de Nikolits paints a visceral world of a lost, but determined soul. Joscelyn, like many people do, encounters a whole range of characters in her journeys. From her egotistically-minded friend Emma to her relationship with Ashley, a friend who is troubled, but is confident in his own admirable way, Joscelyn must fight adversity at every step. She finds consolation unexpectedly in the diary of Imran Ali, an Islamic fundamentalist whose religious conversion holds a key to her own search for meaning. Her fiery connection with a drug dealer, Lenny, is an example to her fight for identity in a world that continues to repress and oppress over her individual will to power.
Between The Cracks is an engaging novel that will have you questioning what the stability of entitled faith and displaying strength in the conviction that personal will yields."
– Jacqueline Valencia, author of The Octopus Complex, Assistant Editor at Beyond Borderlands, contributor at Broken Pencil Magazine, founding editor of These Girls On Film, and a film journalist and senior staff film critic at Next Projection.