Roads Unravelling


150 pages
ISBN 1-894549-28-7
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Ilana Stanger-Ross

Ilana Stanger-Ross, a former senior editor of and fiction
instructor in the English Department at Temple University, is currently
a fiction writer in Toronto.


In “Aunty Grabbity,” the seventh of the eight short stories in this
debut collection, Rolleen, an uneducated artist, recalls a childhood
conversation with her father. “The gravity well of earth holds us
tight down to the ground,” her father tells her. “But we long to
escape it.” Tweaking her nose, he asks, “Think we ever will?” This
question is at the centre of each of Leveille’s stories. In almost all
of them, it is a daughter’s relationship to her mother that
constitutes the gravity she longs to escape.

In Leveille’s stories, mothers die young, abandon their families,
and, perhaps worst of all, are not who they say they are. The daughters
of these mothers reflect on this primary relationship as they enter
womanhood or middle age—one on her wedding day, another as she
inherits the family farm outside St. John, still another as she deals
with miscarriage—struggling to come to terms with their pasts so that
they can move more fully toward the future.

The stories are set in New Brunswick among working-class, or formerly
working-class, families. Each family has a secret, and each secret a
legacy. Ultimately, each story ends with a move toward survival: the
grown daughters have come to terms with their mothers’ failures and
are ready to embrace their own possibilities. The only exception to this
trajectory is “Sticks and Stones,” which is told from the
perspective of the alcoholic mother rather than the injured daughter.
The resolution for this particular mother-daughter pair is too abrupt to
be convincing. Overall, however, Leveille chronicles the terrible weight
of childhood betrayals with a deft touch.


Leveille, Kathy-Diane., “Roads Unravelling,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,