A coming-of-age YA novel about the daughter of a Pacific Northwest fisherman, whose presumed drowning in 1967 has her searching for answers, including whether or not he’s really dead.
As the Summer of Love comes to an end, 15-year-old Ida Petrovich waits for a father who never comes home. While commercial fishing in Alaska, he is lost at sea, but with no body and no wreckage, Ida and her mother are forced to accept a “presumed” death that tests their already strained relationship. While still in shock over the loss of her father, Ida overhears an adult conversation that shatters everything she thought she knew about him. This prompts her to set out on a search for the truth that takes her from her Washington State hometown to Southeast Alaska, where she works at a salmon cannery, develops love for a Filipino classmate, and befriends a Native Alaskan girl. In this wild, rugged place, she also begins to understand the physical and emotional bonds that took her father north and why he kept them secret—a journey of discovery that ultimately brings her family together and helps them heal. Insightful and heartfelt, The Leaving Year is a tale of love and loyalty, family and friendship, and the stories we tell ourselves in our search for meaning.
Praise for THE LEAVING YEAR: A NOVEL
“If you’re looking to add a heartwarming read to your Summer #TBR pile, The Leaving Year will be your go-to read.” ―PopSugar
“A charming, emotional story about family, fishing, and self-discovery.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“An atmospheric and richly layered coming-of-age novel with a protagonist to root for and a page-turning mystery. Family secrets, first love, a quest for truth, and a character who heals and expands her worldview through a journey to Alaska; what more can you ask for? I loved this thoughtful and uplifting story.” ―Kristin Bartley Lenz, award-winning author of The Art of Holding On and Letting Go
“Ida Petrovich, wise and brave beyond her years, takes us on an incredible journey as she seeks the truth about her father’s disappearance. Rich in period details of the 1960’s, and set against the spectacular backdrop of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, TheLeaving Year, is a lovely story of youth, sorrow, and personal growth. Truly a Young Adult must-read.” ―Anne Leigh Parrish, author of The Amendment
“In Pam McGaffin’s exceptional debut, emotion bubbles right below the surface and weaves an addictive tale of mystery and forgiveness as Ida’s search for a missing father takes her on a remarkable journey to find herself.” ―Jan Von Schleh, author of But Not Forever
“Pam McGaffin weaves a heartbreaking tale of loss and finding your way back. This coming-of-age tale is not to be missed.” ―Lish McBride, award-winning author of the Necromancer and Firebug young-adult books
“The Leaving Year takes the reader to a time and a place that is not only singular, but beautifully familiar. Author Pam McGaffin has written a powerful story of loss and its unknowns, rife with grief and confusion, and weaves it into an empowering journey of self-discovery and promise.” ―Emily Russin, writer and editor
“Pam McGaffin has crafted a coming-of-age novel that starts and ends in the fishing communities of Puget Sound, but whose landscape of imagination is really Alaska. The grandeur of the land and largeness of spirit that shapes our image of the forty-ninth state is echoed in thefamilies that fight and feel their way through this story of caring, loss, and the price of self-awareness.” ―Steve Lindbeck, former CEO of Alaska Public Media and director of the Alaska Humanities Forum
Pam McGaffin is an award-winning former journalist who returned to her original passion of writing fiction after a long career in newspapers and public relations. Her short stories have appeared in online literary journals, and her articles and essays have been featured in newspapers and magazines. She and her family live in
1. What is on your nightstand?
At this moment, I have seven books on my nightstand, but I’m only reading two of them: Lovely, Dark and Deep by Justina Chen and Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. I just finished Daniel James Brown’s Boys on the Boat, about the amazing, hard-scrabble UW crew team that won gold in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. I loved it and am impatiently waiting for them to make the movie. My husband, Mark Funk, gave me that book knowing that I’d like it. He’s always trying to get me to read more non-fiction, and I’m always trying to get him to read more fiction.
2. What author would you totally fan?
It’s a tossup between Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler. Both are brilliant, singular talents and keen observers of human behavior and relationships. I’ve tried to imitate both their styles in my writing, with mixed success. If I ever met either one of them, I would be completely star-struck speechless. Then, unable to form a single, coherent thought, I’d bow.
3. What makes you cringe?
Being asked to speak in front of, say, more than four people. Before my book launch, I paced the house, did yoga and deep breathing, and took my dog on three walks – all to settle my nerves. I got through my little speech, reading and Q and A just fine. In fact, the event went better than I could have imagined, probably because it was a complete love fest with about 100 family and friends. Still, I was relieved when it was over.
4. Do you obsessively plot out each point or just go with the flow?
I go with the flow when I’m drafting because I’m discovering the story as I go along. Once I have the story down, I’ll go back and apply character arcs and plot points, making sure things are happening when they should be. It’s not the most efficient way to write, but I haven’t been able to do it any other way. Things could change. I’m still learning how to write novels.
Is there a word you love to use?
The one word I overused in early drafts of The Leaving Year was “smile.” My characters would say something and smile – again and again and again. I did a word search for “smile,” then tried to eliminate or find alternatives for as many of them as possible. I didn’t want my scenes reading like a hospitality convention!
Also, if you have any pictures of your pet you would like to share, please attach them. My readers love animals!
Here’s a photo of my dog, Ben, next to his look-alike dog pillow.
Seattle. This is her first novel.
PHOTO CONTENT FROM PAM MCGAFFIN
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