Off the Shelf: Former Prescott College student pens novel for young adults

Book Review: "A Series of Small Maneuvers" by Eliot Treichel (Ooligan Press)

Prescott College should be very proud of its former student, Eliot Treichel, for what he has accomplished. His first book, "Close is Fine," won the Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, and he is widely published in several prestigious magazines. And now he has published a second book, "A Series of Small Maneuvers," this one an engaging young adult novel.

The protagonist of the novel is 15-year-old Emma, who must make it back home on her own through wild rapids when her father is killed on a canoe trip that was meant to bring them closer together. Along with fighting the rapids and severe weather conditions to get back to safety, Emma must battle tremendous guilt for her own part in her father's accident. The guilt does not go away, either, when Emma does make it back; in fact, her real struggle with the complexity of guilt-tinged grief is only beginning, and her way through the rapids and severe weather of this process are much harder than on the actual river itself. Her former normal life concerns with school and friends are difficult to return to with the onslaught of emotions that accompany her father's death.

The story is told through Emma's perspective, and Treichel captures the voice of a young girl with impressive authenticity. Treichel is also adept at interweaving present and past time so that as the literal story unfolds, so, too, does the significance of the action and dialogue that occur. The characters open up to readers in much the same way; Emma's mother and sister, and especially her father, are known to us in ways not possible without the richness of Emma's past interactions with family that Treichel weaves into the mix.

Readers are invited to interact with Eliot Treichel and ask questions when he comes to talk and sign books at the Peregrine Book Company, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.

Reviewed by Susan Lang, Peregrine Book Company event coordinator