No Safe House by Diane PoulinNo Safe House by Diane Poulin

No Safe House

byDiane Poulin

Paperback | October 1, 2003

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The rats are stirring under the streets of Oakwood and twelve-year-old Jill knows it. She’s been feeding them bread in her basement, and before this business is over, four dogs will be dead and three houses will be up for sale on Glendale Avenue. Jill and her best friend Phoebe are spies. They ride around Oakwood on their bikes, keeping track of the teenage boys, The Witch in the old wooden house, and new headstones in the graveyard. They also share a secret. Jill’s mother hits her fairly regularly, hard enough to leave bruises. Jill has mostly stopped eating. That’s why she and Phoebe are stuffing her school sandwiches down the grate in the basement. It’s also why the rats are surfacing. Jill discovers her mother is terrified of rats, Jill feels the power of the rats coursing through her, giving her strength to confront her mother. As Jill becomes focused, able to instill fear, her friendship with Phoebe begins to falter. The girls are poised between innocence and experience, childhood and adolescence. There is a growing tension between them. Jill is working part-time as a mother's help for neighbour Laurel Murray. But Laurel herself is trembling on the edge of something, searching for answers just out of reach. Laurel suddenly packs up the car, gathers her three little kids and announces to her husband that she’s driving west. Laurel's journey is juxtaposed with daily life back in Oakwood, where four dogs have turned up dead. Poisoned. The media descend on Oakwood, and Jill and Phoebe spend much effort tracking the reporters. When the old Warbanskis are victims of a home invasion, it’s the last straw for some long-time residents of Glendale Avenue. Journalists return to probe possible gang connections. The Warbanskis move to a new gated community just outside the city, patrolled and watched by videocams. Jill and Phoebe, trying to absorb this edgy world around them, grow farther apart. Phoebe is reaching for the heavens; she wants to become an astronaut. She believes in stars. Jill is digging down deeper, where the rats live, under the surface of things. Oakwood is a fictitious Winnipeg neighbourhood which is like many Canadian cities at the dawn of the millennium: leafy, hard-working on the outside, with a streak of violence running down the centre, just out of sight. It is this invisible current that the twelve-year-old girls know better than the adults. Satellites zoom overhead, reporters crawl the streets with laptops, home video cameras are everywhere. But who killed the dogs? Why? It seems the more eyes we grow, the less we see.

About The Author

Diane Poulin was born and raised in Montreal and graduated from Concordia University. She moved to Winnipeg in her twenties and considers herself passionately prairie. Diane’s main occupation is journalism, and she spent ten years as a reporter, producer and director with CBC Radio in Winnipeg. She left to work for the Mayor of Winnipe...

Details & Specs

Title:No Safe HouseFormat:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 7.98 × 5.25 × 0.42 inPublished:October 1, 2003Publisher:Signature EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0921833938

ISBN - 13:9780921833932

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Poulin comments on the role and effect of the media in a way that recalls Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. Furthermore, she breaks down the varying emotions and dynamics present in any community, showing how growing fears of violence and the unknown are beginning to seven community ties, encourage suspicion and cause a sort of bomb-shelter mentality.—Uptown Magazine "As the community’s secrets slowly emerge—partly through Jill and Phoebe’s spying, partly through the various community members’ obsessive scrutiny of each other—the reader is given the sense of a highly dysfunctional world. As spring turns to summer, the neighbourhood experiences a series of strnage events that have lasting repercussions. Rats arrive in Jill’s basement, drawn by the rotting sandwiches. Homes are invaded, extra-marital affairs develop, friends drift apart, and a mysterious new neighbour everyone calls "The Walker" paces the streets in her yellow raincoat. No Safe House is an engaging study of the fear, paranoia and mystery that lurk behind the tastefully curtained windows of a middle-class neighbourhood."—Winnipeg Free Press