I had chosen another novel to bring with me on my 10-day vacation this year, but disappointingly I was done with it by the end of the flight to Calgary (admittedly having skipped 50 pages in the middle). I asked my friend in Calgary for a loaner, telling her I was looking for something she could recommend, preferably Canadian since it's harder to come by Canadian novels at home. She handed me this one, saying it is like a mystery novel but "sad, but really good" which turns out to be a perfect description of this book.I fell into it immediately (vacation reading is great that way), fell in love with the main character, and couldn't put it down. I was so pulled-in that when bad things started happening, I had a strong emotional reaction, and I realized that I really wanted the book to go on for the next 600 pages without changing. But I am grateful to MacDonald, first for the gift creating characters I cared about so much, and then for having the bravery to take them on their full path. This is one of those books that leaves me in awe of the great gulf between talented writers and the talent-less (like myself). Here is an example of MacDonald's prose:When you look closely, however, you can see that they all have the thing in their eye. The result of an accident or a gift. Perhaps God dropped each of them on the head before they were born. Light seems to reflect at an odd angle from their irises -- the visible effect, possibly, of information that, having entered the brain obliquely, exits the eye at a corresponding tilt. Something, at some point, smote or stroked them. Each lives in genial terror of being found out and exposed as a fraud. Each his fuelled by a combustible blend of exuberance and self-loathing, informed by a mix of savvy and gullibility. None was cool in high school. Denizens of the great in-between of belonging and not belonging; dwellers in the cracks of sidewalks; stateless citizens of the world; strangers among us, familiar to all. Comedians. These are Madeleine's people. [p. 609 of the paperback]In addition to loving this book for its characters and plot, I loved all the references to things from my childhood, like Nana Mouskouri glasses and Wink soda. It made me feel even more at home while being at home. I'll be looking out for more by this author.