For Bridge Lake author Becky Citra, If Only is a different, edgier direction for her writing.
Her new teen novel is a story set in 1968 about 15-year-old twins, Danny and Pam, who are assaulted on their way home from school.
“The once close twins grow farther and farther apart as they struggle with their guilt and fear,” Citra explains.
“Pam is frightened by what happens and she blames herself. Danny is filled with remorse and guilt because he didn’t protect his sister.”
If Only is Citra’s 19th book. Her past books are geared for readers aged nine to 13 and usually focus on themes, such as family and school. She also writes mysteries.
“I’ve never got into anything like this type of content,” she says of If Only.
“It was really different. I’m not sure I would do a lot more teen novels. It was a challenge.”
The idea for the book came from a newspaper article Citra read about a young girl being sexually assaulted by a man while in the company of two of her brothers.
“It never really said what the brothers did. It just said she was with her two older brothers. That intrigued me because I thought, ‘How did this happen when she’s with [them]’?”
Basically, If Only is a story about how this sort of trauma affects the victims, she adds.
“I think the biggest theme is courage – Danny trying to understand what courage really means.”
Also new for Citra, who has a twin sister, was writing about twins.
“I had never written about twins and I thought it would be kind of fun. I think there’s a closeness you might not get with another sibling.”
Citra taught at the Bridge Lake Elementary School for close to 18 years before retiring to write full time. Her book, Missing, a mystery novel set in the Cariboo, won the Saskatchewan Diamond Willow Award and was an Ontario Silver Birch Honour Book.
She has a new book, Finding Grace, set to come out next spring.
In the meantime, Citra says she’s excited about the release of If Only.
“I’m hoping it does well. I’ve never had books for that level, so I’m hoping to go into the high school and talk to the kids about it.”
There’s a book launch scheduled at Nuthatch Books on Birch Avenue in 100 Mile House from 3:30 to 5 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 10). Signed copies of If Only and many of Citra’s other books will be for sale.