IT IS 2013 AND CALGARY'S BOW RIVER
IS BEGINNING TO RISE...
Two homeless men stand by the bank and contemplate the death of another friend-an accident?
Taking cover downtown that night, Shermeto intervenes in the attack on a bar patron, and finds himself laid up in the hospital. Outside, as the city reels from an unthinkable disaster, Shermeto finds himself away from the swelling river and face-to-face with a part of his past he is trying to hide from: his daughter Kendra.
EARLY PRAISE FOR ROUGH
"Rough is a book that completely captivated me! It is a fictional story told around a devastating flood of the Bow River that occurred in 2013. I live in the city where the flood took place so I well remember how it devastated so many communities and the city as a whole. Homeless people or people sleeping rough make their nightly homes along the riverbank that winds through the cosmopolitan downtown. Many of these people generally avoid shelters so they are an unknown number when disasters like this strike. This is the story of Kendra and her estranged father, Shermeto. Shermeto has been living on the streets for years and when the flood comes Kendra makes a desperate attempt to find him. She has recently found out he is suffering from cancer so she is determined to find him and help him with his living situation and medical issues. This book is beautifully written! Between the descriptions of life on the streets to the ramifications of the flood and the issues between Kendra and her father I was fully invested in their story. Kendra and Shermeto have known a lot of heartache in their lives and that unfolds throughout the book. There is also a mystery surrounding the recent deaths of homeless people and Shermeto is on edge. The author has done a great job detailing the problems and issues surrounding the daily lives of homeless people. I am amazed that this is a debut novel. The style of writing flows so well and I was hooked from page one. This book will definitely stay with me!" @booksandchinooks Instagram
"Robin van Eck’s novel Rough brings Calgary vividly to life during the historic flood of 2013. Part mystery, part family drama, the story follows Shermeto, a former photographer and widower living on the streets as the downtown is evacuated. Estranged from his children and haunted by memories and ill health, Shermeto finds ways to make amends with strangers as his daughter, Kendra, risks her life to try to locate him. As the Bow River rises, the tension builds, and the true dangers of the downtown emerge out of the flood waters while father and daughter race to set things right before it’s too late."
Lauren Carter, author of This Has Nothing to Do With You, Swarm
"An immersive read. Frank, sometimes stark, yet grounded in tenderness. Kicks assumptions about homeless people where the sun don't shine."
Rona Altrows, author of At This Juncture, Key in Lock
"With grit and empathy, Robin van Eck shows how easily any of us might slip through the gaps in our culture's safety nets, and, for those left on the other side, how we can lose parts of ourselves trying to drag our loved ones back." Naomi K. Lewis, author of Tiny Lights for Travellers
"In the midst of speaking, raging rivers, this genre-crossing novel combines family ordeal with murder mystery played out on the undercurrents of the homeless. Lost fathers, sons and mothers, found daughters and newly-acquired family, van Eck eddies capably between past and present in this disarming story of familial reclamation from the river and the rough." Lee Kvern, author of 7 Ways to Sunday, The Matter of Sylvie
"Rough is a gripping and frank portrayal of life on the streets, where suffering is the glue and secrets abound amid a string of deaths among the transient. When the river jumps the banks, eating the city’s downtown core as it goes, one man, homeless by choice, is forced to confront his past in order to save those he cares about. Visually rich and intense, Robin van Eck’s debut novel provides a deep reflection on humanity with all its grit and murk, hidden inside of a mystery. An eye-opening, haunting, and unforgettable read." Fran Kimmel, author of No Good Asking
"Fascinating insight into a mostly unknown world as the rest of it spins crazily out of control on the surge of a river’s whim. A story of damaged people - damaged by others, themselves, tragic circumstances- riding a tumultuous wave of terror, guilt, redemption, forgiveness and love. Certain lines will stop you cold." Anthony Bidulka, author of Going to Beautiful