Seventeen-year-old Holly Callahan desperately wants to make the national rowing team so she can compete overseas, but she is the last rower cut. Her summer dreams are shattered, and she finds herself
Seventeen-year-old Holly Callahan desperately wants to make the national rowing team so she can compete overseas, but she is the last rower cut. Her summer dreams are shattered, and she finds herself back at home, living with her mother's annoying new boyfriend, Super Stew.
Holly's not a quitter. She lands a summer job, and then is handed an unexpected lifeline in the person of a man who offers to coach her in a single rowing boat. For a girl raised without a father, the coach's generosity — and rigorous demands — are a gift. But where did he come from and who is he, really?
Discovering the answer plunges her into sadness — but then he inspires her to work beyond her comfort zone.
Lorna Schultz Nicholson's compelling account of a teen athlete's life-changing summer will keep readers riveted until the last page is turned.
View Biographical note
Lorna Schultz Nicholson
is the author of many books about Canadian sports figures, as well as the celebrated One-to-One series of novels. A former radio host and health & lifestyle reporter, she is now a full-time author and presenter. She lives with her family in Edmonton.
View Author comments
When You Least Expect It is a Young Adult coming-of-age novel about Holly Callahan, a teen athlete who is pursuing the dream of being an Olympian but there are personal setbacks in her path. I wrote about Holly because years ago I was a rower, struggling for the same dream, and I also encountered setbacks. Mine were different from what Holly is up against, but they were still there, holding me back. I never made my dream, and this is a chance for me to write about someone who can find a way.
After I stopped rowing, I became a rowing coach. During my time coaching I was involved in a tragedy that has been inside of me for a long time. The writing of this book is perhaps a healing process for something that happened thirty-three years ago. As I wrote, I looked at a lot of old photos of my rowing and coaching days and they brought up cherished memories.
When You Least Expect It will appeal to teens 13+ who enjoyed If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Exit, Pursued By A Bear by E. K. Johnston, or Skating On Thin Ice by Jean Mills.
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"A sympathetic portrayal of a young rower navigating the choppy waters of evolving relationships and athletic aspirations, her yearning for love and understanding, and the dogged pursuit of desires that always seem just out of reach."
— Hadley Dyer, author of Here So Far Away
"It is all about perseverance, sacrifice, and a great journey of self-realization as a young athlete pursues her dreams"
— Al Morrow, Former Olympic Team Rowing Coach
Holly Callahan is shattered when she?s cut from a national rowing team. She returns home to a bizarre family situation, and summer rowing that isn?t serious. When a knowledgeable, but mysterious, man at the club offers to coach her in a single, she secretly agrees. Where did he come from?
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Seventeen-year-old Holly spends her summer secretly training in competitive rowing.
All Holly Callahan had been looking forward to this summer was traveling to Europe with the Junior Canadian Rowing Team?so she?s devastated when she narrowly misses making the cut. In their small Ontario city, Holly and her mother have recently moved in with her mother?s too-cheerful new boyfriend and his tween sons. To make matters worse, Holly learns her mother?s pregnant and has been hiding the big news. To distract herself, she gets a job hostessing where she meets attractive, kind Tim, the restaurant?s assistant manager, who shows a romantic interest in her. When the recreational rowing team is a bust, Holly finds herself coached to row a single by Alan, a serious man hiding a tragic past. Though he encourages her to tell her mother about their sessions, Holly lies to her family about her hours spent practicing, focused on making it to a big regatta. While the main story is told in first-person prose from Holly?s perspective, alternating chapters in verse from a mysterious narrator?s point of view add an intriguing element, leading up to an interesting reveal. However, with one-note characters and extensive descriptions of rowing training bogging down the plot, this sports-centered novel will mostly appeal to rowing fans. Main characters are White; Tim is Black.
Emotional, if lacking in substance. (rowing glossary, author interview) (Fiction. 12-17)
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