Milner’s suspenseful, compelling tale is universal
B.C. becomes a character in new novel
Donna Milner’s Somewhere In-Between begins with a tragedy — a teenage girl is killed in a car crash, leaving her mother and father, Julie and Ian O’Dale, devastated and reeling.
The driver of the vehicle was a young man from a First Nations community, and the parents hold him to blame for the loss of their daughter.
As the book opens, the couple, whose marriage is in tatters after the death, is considering buying a remote ranch in British Columbia’s Chilcotin area. The ranch, which is beautiful, is also isolated and makes Julie feel like they’re running away from everything. Nonetheless, they go ahead and buy the ranch, which comes with a caveat: The new buyer must allow a reclusive tenant to continue living in a cabin on the property.
That tenant is Virgil Blue, an intriguing character with a haunting and tragic history of his own.
Milner is also the author of After River, which was a bestseller that was translated into six languages and sold in 12 countries, and The Promise of Rain. She was born in Victoria and grew up in Vancouver, but as a young woman she moved to the central interior of British Columbia, working as a realtor and raising four children.
All of her books are set in B.C. and Somewhere In-Between is no different. B.C.’s iconic geography and wildlife are as much characters in the book as the people are.
Although B.C. plays a major role in Milner’s fiction, her novels are about families and the Donna Milner Caitlin Press conflicts, relationships, ties and struggles that are so much a part of all relationships.
In Somewhere In-Between the story is really about connections between and among families, including the connection between life, death and the afterlife, the connection with the First Nations spirit world, and the connections between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives.
The O’Dale family is not the only family suffering in this story — the family of the young man who was driving the car, Levi Johnny, is also faltering after the fatal crash. Johnny was a promising young hockey player; after the crash he quits hockey and rarely leaves his house.
While it may sound depressing, the message of Milner’s story is actually one of hope and redemption.
With wisdom and compelling storytelling, Milner gives readers a tale of rural British Columbia that is both universal and timeless. Her writing style is uncluttered and spare, but eminently readable while the storytelling is suspenseful, well-paced and nuanced.