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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What's Not Mine

Narrator: Billie Baird

ISBN: 9781778523465

Publisher: ECW Press Audio

Publication Date: 04/02/2024

Format: Audio

My Rating: 4 Stars (ALC)

For fans of Miriam Toews, an absorbing, darkly funny story of family, addiction, and survival.

The summer Bria Powers turns 16 is sinister. Waves of insects plague her hometown of Beauchamp, where fentanyl has recently infiltrated the drug stream. Forest fires muddy the normally wide-open skies, and everything smells like a barbecue all the time. It’s also the summer Bria goes from having saved a life to ruining her own.

Since her drug-dealing father disappeared and his girlfriend overdosed, Bria has lived with her aunt Tash and best friend/cousin Ains. By day, Bria and Ains babysit Ains’s younger siblings and sling fast food at Burger Shack. But at night, Bria has her own secret world, sneaking out to see Someboy, an older guy who captivates her sometimes. Other times, he angers-insults-upends her, and that has a certain charm too.

But trouble comes for Beauchamp and for Bria in the form of bears that wander into town, dick pics texted from a mystery number, and a creeping dependence on what Bria should hate most of all.

Steeped in tragicomedy and written in starkly observed prose, What’s Not Mine explores inheritance, addiction, and survival when the odds are against you.

My Review

Nora Decter's WHAT'S NOT MINE is a heartbreaking tale of a young teen girl's summer caught up in a tragic environment of addiction in this coming-of-age/literary fiction in search of survival. It is both absorbing and darkly witty and funny at times—a powerful and moving tale.

We meet Bria Powers, almost 16. Life in the town of Beauchamp is miserable, depressing, and claustrophobic. It is sweltering with insects and drugs.

Her mother was addicted to drugs and left when Bria was four. Her father is in jail for drug dealing. His girlfriend overdosed on fentanyl.

She lives with Aunt Tash and cousins Ainsley, Emily, and Doug. She and her best friend (cousin), Ains, babysit Ain's younger siblings, and they work at the fast-food Burger Shack at night.

Bria has an escape at night, an older guy named 'Someboy' she hangs with. In addition, she is receiving pornographic images from an anonymous sender via cellphone, which is not Someboy.

Turning 16 for Bria is not exciting as she does not have a life as a normal girl, and her Aunt's live-in boyfriend, Rick, is disgusting. Bria soon turns to pills, alcohol, and drugs and becomes addicted. She is drowning. Can she get help before it is too late and rehab?

WHAT'S NOT MINE explores a town facing environmental and social issues of addiction and how a young girl is caught up in a situation without a lot of control and no way out. It's a sad world with no strong role models. Can she break free?

Beautifully written with lyrical prose, dark and heartbreaking. Your heart goes out to Bria. The author captures the complexities of human experiences and balances them with dark humor. I look forward to reading more by this author.

I listened to the audiobook skillfully narrated by Billie Baird for a spellbinding performance. Written in a diary-journal-like format, I enjoyed Bria's POV, the waterslides, her love of her cousins, and the stunning metaphors. Timely, this story could be ripped from today's headlines.

WHAT'S NOT MINE is for fans of Between Two Trailers by Dana Trent, Educated by Tera Westover, The Women We Burned by Rachel Louise Snyder and Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks.

Thanks to ECW Press and NetGalley for a digital advancing reading copy for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: April 2, 2024


“Nora Decter has written a wrenching, knowing, and wry novel about coming of age into a rough world. Skillful and appealingly deadpan, What’s Not Mine explores the quest for solace, belonging, and distractions. Decter is a fine writer, and this is a memorable novel.”

― Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion

“What’s Not Mine is both a wild summer drug story and a moving account of a tough teenage girl trying to navigate the mad, sad world of adult failure. Decter deftly describes the casual, corrosive misogyny that closes in on young women like a pack of dogs and the trickiness of addiction. I couldn’t put it down.”

― Zoe Whittall, author of The Fake

"As her 16th birthday approaches, Bria finds herself overwhelmed. Drugs play a major role in her small Manitoba town: her mother is addicted to them and left when Bria was four; her father is in jail for drug-dealing; his girlfriend overdosed on fentanyl. Bria finds it difficult to resist drugs' allure as well, and, adding to her spiral, she is receiving pornographic images from an anonymous sender via cellphone. While staying with her aunt, Bria babysits her cousins, works at the Burger Shack, and sneaks out of the apartment to have an affair with a much older, disreputable man. Filtering events through Bria's voice, Decter's (How Far We Go and How Fast) adult debut illustrates the reality of living with drugs as the main source of recreation and economic viability. Occasionally vocabulary such as "verisimilitude" slips into the story, which seems out of character in the first-person narration of a girl who's not interested in school, but Decter shines most when she describes the heat, smoke, bears, and insect-laden trees of a Manitoba summer."

VERDICT "With humor and a lack of sentimentality, Decter portrays an adolescent girl and her town facing serious environmental and social challenges."

—LIBRARY JOURNAL: Jacqueline Snider

About the Author

Nora Decter is a writer and teacher living on Treaty 1 territory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her first novel, How Far We Go and How Fast, won the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Award. She loves the shapes of sentences.

Nora is represented by Ron Eckel at Cooke McDermid.



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