How Far We Go and How Fast

A novel by Nora Decter.

Nora Decter

Sixteen-year-old Jolene, named after the girl in the Dolly Parton song, is from a long line of lowlifes, but at least they're musical lowlifes. Her mother is a tanning-salon manager who believes she can channel her karaoke habit into a professional singing career. Jolene's dad, a failed bass player, has gone back to the family demolition business and lives by the company motto: "We do not build things; we only tear them down." But Jolene and her big brother, Matt, are true musicians, writing songs together that make everything Jo hates about their lives matter less. When Matt up and leaves in the middle of the night, Jo loses her only friend, her support system and the one person who made her feel cool. As it becomes clear that Matt is never coming back, Jo must use music to navigate her loss. (From Orca Book Publishers)

How Far We Go and How Fast won the $10,000 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for fiction.

From the book

In the morning there are bodies on the floor. Facedown, three of them, which isn't half bad. One among the shoes kicked off at the door. One cozy in the slot between couch and coffee table. And one half on the floor, half on the loveseat that we carried home fifteen blocks three years ago.

That's Cory at the bottom of the stairs, using a boot for a pillow. He's some kind of cousin of Maggie's, and I don't worry about waking him — he won't wake easily. And that's Roxie, Cory's on-again, off-again wedged behind the table. I recognize her hair extensions. Loveseat lady must be new, or at least I don't know her from this angle. Howl is waiting in the kitchen. Her tail thumps the linoleum when I walk in, but otherwise she's quiet. She knows the routine as well as I do. We've been running it for a while. She won't get her walk until I've made the rounds, made sure everyone has a pulse. Until then she watches, because she's a watchdog. She sees everything we do and everything we don't do. She sees me chuck a filter in the coffee maker and fill it with a few shakes of the hazelnut shit Maggie keeps around. (The coffee is a concession to the drunks. I don't hate them. I just want them to go.) She sees me crack the window an inch and let in the cold. (To help wake them, clear the air. It reeks in here. Good thing I hold my breath so well.) And she sees me go into the hall to suit up for outside, which must be done with care, so that outside doesn't kill me. All Howl needs is a leash, but I'm a mere mortal, so on go the sweaters, the hat and the scarves. My snow pants are not cool. All Howl needs is a leash, but I'm a mere mortal, so on go the sweaters, the hat and the scarves. My snow pants are not cool. I wear them anyway. Maggie makes fun, but then, I don't put much stock in Maggie's opinions. She wears high heels to wade into two feet of snow.

From How Far We Go and How Fast by Nora Decter ©2018. Published by Orca Book Publishers.