West of Wawa

Paperback | September 15, 2011

byLisa Denikolits

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Emotionally battered and bruised, 29-year-old Australian immigrant Benny is looking for escape, not redemption. Escape from herself and the dismal failures of her life: her first solo art exhibition is panned by critics and her husband left her for an Andy Warhol look-alike. Isolated from her family, her career as an abstract artist in ruins, she comes to Canada and finds solace working eighteen hours a day as a graphic designer in a disreputable agency. Numbing her pain with hard work, she self-medicates with prescription meds, and becomes involved in a series of increasingly dubious relationships with ill-suited unreliable men who lead her into danger. Cutting off all ties with normalized daily routines, Benny leaves her job and sets off on a road trip adventure across Canada, hoping she will discover who she wants to be and where she wants to be it. During the bus trip she discovers junk food, cigarettes, hash and drinks a lot of alcohol. She confuses sexual attraction with love in a series of relationships with loser bad boys and continues to put herself in destructive, potentially dangerous situations.  Hardcore, she travels for the most part by Greyhound bus, sinking deeper into the underbelly of a world that offers her the anonymity she seeks. Funny, aggressive, fearless and vulnerable, Benny is a road-warrior with a backpack of opiates, a map and a guileless sense of naiveté. In seventy-two days, she travels nearly ten thousand miles overland and more by flight and train; she''s a determined modern-day pioneer. This coming-of-age novel is narrated with wry humour and filled with a cast of engaging characters. A tale of sexual adventure and feminist learning, Benny looks for escape but emerges a heroine instead; with mistakes, epiphanies and friendships helping forge her a home and a sense of identity in the true North.

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From the Publisher

Emotionally battered and bruised, 29-year-old Australian immigrant Benny is looking for escape, not redemption. Escape from herself and the dismal failures of her life: her first solo art exhibition is panned by critics and her husband left her for an Andy Warhol look-alike. Isolated from her family, her career as an abstract artist in ruins, she comes to Canada and finds solace working eighteen h...

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen for nine years and has lived in Toronto for thirteen. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. As an art director, her magazine credits include marie claire, Vogue, Vogue Living and Cosmopolitan, SHE and Longevity. Her first novel, the critically acclaimed The Hun...

other books by Lisa Denikolits

Between The Cracks She Fell
Between The Cracks She Fell

Paperback|Aug 20 2015

$22.94 online$22.95list price
Format:PaperbackDimensions:260 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:September 15, 2011Publisher:Inanna PublicationsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1926708245

ISBN - 13:9781926708249

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read list Just finished reading a free preview .... I like it already
Date published: 2013-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally relatable I picked up this book with eager anticipation and I was definitely not disappointed! This book grabbed me from page one and captured my attention throughout the entire novel! The book is sexy, edgy and well written. It made me laugh out loud and hate some of the characters! It definitely provoked strong emotions! It was fun, and brought the middle aged me back to my early twenties when I was way more footloose and fancy free! I loved this book! The descriptions of some of the small towns across Canada really resonated well with me. I passed this book along to four of my friends who have all loved it! It is a great read, a perfect summer read, a real coming of age story! As a Canadian woman, I feel this is a must read for any of us! It is just totally relate able!
Date published: 2012-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Take a Trip With Benny Across Canada What a ride! Benny is a wacky, drugged out, all too human character who sets off on a cross country tour, via bus, of Canada. Along the way, she meets all kinds of characters and learns a lot about herself and what life is really all about. This book is funny, sad, thought provoking and in the end, just fantastic. A great read for a road trip!
Date published: 2012-05-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Personal Excursion The book, WEST OF WAWA by Lisa de Nikolits, was an easy read which I really like when I don't have a lot of time and thought to give a book. As a matter of fact, this would be a great beach read for the summer. Benny, the main character, works through some life obstacles that left her reeling as she travels through Canada. In a couple of places there are some cliches that were a bit annoying BUT the author uses Benny to address that fact that she's aware of them as cliches thus creating the point that, sometimes, a cliche is just what we need to accurately describe a situation or how we feel. While there are some descriptive scenes of the Canadian landscape on her excursion, I got all caught up in Benny's personal excursion. Why? Well, maybe she walks around in a cloud of destruction; maybe she doesn't. Maybe she makes some dangerous choices; maybe she doesn't. Maybe she wakes up and smells the coffee; maybe she doesn't. Maybe she has a storybook ending; maybe she doesn't. Looking for that perfect summer read? Give this one a try!
Date published: 2012-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read Benny is 29 years old and has left her home of Australia. She is running from her life and everything in her life especially her ex husband and her feeling as failing as an artist. She got a really bad review of her art work and has taken it to heart. She thought that this would make it but instead it broke her. She decided that she was going to pack up and move to Canada specifically Toronto. (I think this was the perfect place for her to begin her journey.) Benny feels as though Toronto is the place to begin her new life. She managed to secure a furnished apartment before hitting Toronto and basically as soon as her feet hit the ground she has begun a job search. She manages to find something right away and is hired as a graphic designer. Thankfully her new boss will begin the paper work so that she can get a permanent residency in Canada. Benny works hard at a job she doesn't really like but she manages to stick it out until her papers come and even a little longer because her boss realizes that she will leave so she stays as a sort of I will prove you wrong thing. During her stay in Toronto she meets a neighbor across the way, Eli. He is a musician and likes to dabble in some drugs. This is where we first see Benny dipping into them to. They have a very casual relationship (friends with benefits). She takes it to heart when he announces he is leaving for Vancouver. I think this is where Benny decides she needs to see more of Canada and to discover herself. So begins her journey across Canada. She books a ticket to Newfoundland. Lisa nailed the people of Newfoundland. As I was reading this I could actually feel like I was there. Chris reminded me of someone that I knew from there. From there she went to Halifax, another amazing Atlantic province. Sadly for Benny she has just arrived after they were hit by a major storm. Its there that she meets Teenie, who is on the phone yelling that she was sent there to work and there is no one there to work with. Benny over hears this and offers her service as a graphic designer. Realizing she is stuck she takes Benny up on her offer. This was the point of the book that I knew I had to read it because my little home town is mentioned as being one of the cities hit by the storm. As her journey continues Benny meets all kinds of different characters along the way (and they were all special kind of people I tell you) and I have to say this is the point with Benny that I wanted to throttle her because she was making such bad decisions. In regards to sleeping arrangements and drugs. I think she put herself in situations that could have been avoided personally. In the end I think Benny needed to take this cross country journey to realize that she wasn't perfect and that she needed to accept the failure to be able to move on. It was nice that throughout the book we discovered more about her ex husband. I have to say in the beginning I really didn't like him but as the book progressed I started to like him. I loved taking this journey with Benny.
Date published: 2012-04-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good story! My review: West of Wawa was an interesting read. It was well written, I truly enjoyed the writing style and the language what was used for storytelling. West of Wawa is definitely worth of reading, especially if you like road novels. Regarding the plot: The novel is so much more than just a road trip. You meet Benny, a woman is very close to getting 30 years old and the book takes you to Benny's trip to finding out who she really is. After an unsuccessful relationship Australian woman called Benny decides to to take trip through Canada. During the 72 days long trip she encounters with other interesting persons, makes friends, gets abused and finally finds herself. What I enjoyed about the book was the fact, that you got a very captivating into one woman's life, to her inner thoughts, doubts, dreams, nightmares, wishes. The book did not concentrate only to the trip through Canada, but the main emphasis was on Benny and her growth. Regarding the characters: I really enjoyed Benny. She was not always very likable or lovable and she was quite selfish, but she was also a wonderful woman who could pass her troubles and grow and love. I think the author did a very good job with Benny. Generally: West of Wawa is a story which is interesting, you are taken through a journey of a woman finding herself and that journey is captivating! Definitely a very good book to read! 4 stars
Date published: 2012-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Journey To Find Herself First readers, let me tell you that Wawa is a town in Ontario, Canada. As nonsensical as the title sounds, this is a book of serious discovery. Twenty-nine-year-old Benny Chau has run away from her home in Sydney, Australia. Run really, really far away. After a disastrous review to her gallery show she had thought would bring her fame and a way to escape a job she hated, followed by the failure of her marriage, she fled to Toronto via some impressive stops. When she steps off the plane in Toronto, the tulips are in bloom and she thinks the city beautiful and friendly. Benny decides to give Toronto a try and begins a journey to lose herself as far from Australia as she can. She misses her parents and her sister, Shandra, but bemoans the state of her life near them. She is jealous of her sister, although clearly Benny had more advantages. Benny has allowed her bitterness to shape her, define her, sinking further and further into drugs, alcohol, and bad boys. In spite of all this, WEST OF WAWA is a fascinating book. I don’t approve of self-medicating, but don’t worry. Not to give a spoiler, but Benny’s story ends happily. After enduring bad buses, slow trains, and seedy traveling companions for 72 days, she finally reaches the end of her journey in Vancouver. Not all of it was bad, though. In addition to breathtaking scenery, Benny makes two friends, real friends, the kind who stick with you. At then end of her journey, Benny has discovers her true self. Watching another woman reduced to begging, “Benny thought how easy it was to take a wrong turn in life – a turn where one thing led to another, and another, until one day you woke up and the face in the mirror belonged to no one you knew, no one you ever thought you’d know.” WEST OF WAWA is about Benny’s internal journey while she engages in her external journey. Authors are told to avoid stories set in moving vehicles, that they are boring. Not so! Ms De Nikolits creates an exotic ride across Canada, each step exciting and eventful. And whether she stops over in a motel, hotel, hostel, or private home, Benny finds adventure. I love Ms De Nikolit’s turn of phrase, such as describing Manitoba’s mosquitoes “So big they could chew through leather trousers.” Benny started out a selfish, bitter woman. Although I always liked her in this book, she ended up a person I can admire and respect. A talented, energetic person I would want for a friend. She realized, with a small measure of pride, that the trip had taught her a couple of things, not the least of which was that she was a survivor.” Don’t let that tidbit from near the end prevent your reading WEST OF WAWA. Benny’s is a fast-paced, intriguing journey.
Date published: 2012-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly thought-provoking, touching, moving and inspiring Benny is getting close to her 30th birthday and needs to decide what to do with her life. Before she can make such a momentous decision, she makes a rather impetuous one and decides to take a road trip across Canada. Think less jet set lifestyle, jumbo jets and the high life and more Greyhound buses, junk food and chai lattes. However, there’s more to this trip than champagne and roses: this is a chance for Benny to find herself and, hopefully, find her future. I loved Benny as a character. She is utterly flawed, not always very likeable, quite selfish and self-centred in ways. Despite all this, there is an absolutely touching vulnerability to Benny. As the book progressed I found myself absolutely, solidly in love with Benny and everything about her character, the good and the bad. At times I felt that I wasn’t just reading the book from Benny’s perspective but as if I were Benny. I completely empathised with her and even though her decisions were often questionable, I could understand the basis for them, the reasons she took such strange steps. There is so much to this book, despite a premise that seems ridiculously simple. A twenty-something screw-up on a road trip? Maybe. But I rather think that that is selling this book so very short. Instead, think of woman who is full of potential, with a bright future lying ahead of her if only she can find it. A kind soul that has been buried under expectation and disappointment. A lovely young woman who doesn’t value herself enough to recognise the love and respect she deserves from others. I enjoyed every moment of West of Wawa. It wasn’t always easy to read, it didn’t always feel comfortable but it resonated with me for days afterward. I missed Benny. I found myself wondering what would happen next. I wanted to know what her next adventures would be. I have finished some books and felt their absence keenly but it is a very rare thing for me to a finish a book and feel the loss of the character, rather than just the loss of a great story. Incredibly thought-provoking, touching, moving and inspiring, West of Wawa has been one of my favourite reads of 2012 so far. It will certainly be a difficult act to follow.
Date published: 2012-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful journey! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and found Benny's journey across our great land to be both thought provoking and ultimately inspiring. I enjoyed the familiarity of many of the places she visits and loved her interpretation of the Canadian landscape. Benny notes at one point how easy it is to take a wrong turn in life - a message that should resonate with us all. I highly recommend De Nikolits' wonderful novel and look forward to reading more from her in the future.
Date published: 2012-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An unforgettable bus adventure I have just finished reading Lisa de Nikolits book 'West of Wawa' and loved it. Benny, a 29 year old Aussie has immigrated to Canada after finding out her husband has left her for a man and her first one-woman art show received a horrible review. Determined to start a new life in Canada, she buys an open bus ticket for Vancouver. At times I wanted to shake Benny and at other times I wanted to hug her but I could not put the book down until she finished her trip.
Date published: 2011-11-01