#632 Living small on a tired planet

Tiny House, Big Fix
Victoria: Orca Books, 2019

$9.95 / 9781459821200
by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Reviewed by Valerie Green


This small book by novelist Gail Anderson-Dargatz is a delightfully quick read for young adults. The story is told in just 136 pages.

In the book, the author describes many aspects of rural life while at the same time exposing an important social issue in today’s world — the housing shortage crisis for young families.

Sadie is a single mother with two children she is supporting alone after her recent divorce. She works in the building trade as an experienced carpenter but with so many family problems causing her to occasionally have to leave work early, her long-suffering boss has threatened to fire her if it continues on a regular basis.

While trying to save her job, which sometimes means working long hours, and attempting to spend equal time with her daughters who desperately need her after the break-up of their family, Sadie finds herself in an impossible situation. Her fourteen-year-old daughter is also acting up as a result of the divorce, causing her even more problems.

When Sadie is given notice by her landlord to vacate the home she rents by the end of the month, she is then also faced with the possibility of being homeless. The landlord needs the house for her own pregnant daughter and although Sadie could rightfully sue her landlord and ask for her entitlement of at least two months’ notice, she decides she can do without the hassle of a lawsuit on top of everything else.

She then goes on a hunt to find a reasonably priced house or apartment to rent, but discovers that there is absolutely nothing she can afford in the area. Faced with the possibility of having to move to a different area and relocating her girls to new schools, she becomes desperate.

For a while she moves into their old family trailer that was part of her divorce settlement, but it is already in bad shape and not suitable accommodation for her daughters. Once her ex-husband discovers this, he threatens to take the girls away from her. The girls want to stay with their mother but, at the same time, know they would have a far better life-style living with their father and his new wife.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Photo by Mitch Krupp

How does Sadie solve these housing problems? That is the crux of this charming short story. And, by solving her housing situation, she finds she has also solved all the other problems with her daughters.

Living small is the theme of Tiny House, Big Fix, and Gail Anderson-Dargatz weaves an enchanting little story about one family who overcome the housing crisis with the help of friends in a most creative way. In the process, Sadie finds the “big fix’ to her own life and discovers new things about herself. One very minor criticism would be that the book omitted to add more in-depth detail about how to build a tiny house.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz is a best-selling author who enjoys writing about women in rural settings. Her A Recipe for Bees and The Cure for Death by Lightening were finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. She also helps other authors to write fiction. She lives part of the time in British Columbia and part on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. For more information, visit www.gailanderson-dargatz.ca


Valerie Green

Valerie Green was born and educated in England where she studied journalism and law. Her passion was always writing from the moment she first held a pen in her hand. After working at the world-famous Foyles Book Store on Charing Cross Road, London, followed by a brief stint with M15 and legal firms, she moved to Canada in 1968, where she married and raised a family, while embarking on a long career as a freelance writer, columnist and author of over twenty non-fiction historical and true-crime books including Above StairsUpstarts and OutcastsIf these Walls Could TalkVanished: The Michael Dunahee Story, and Dunmora: The Story of a Heritage Manor House on Vancouver Island (Hancock House, 2017, reviewed in Ormsby #434 by Patrick Dunae). She is currently working on her debut novel Providence, which will be published soon as the first of The McBride Chronicles, an historical four-generational family saga bringing early BC history alive. Now semi-retired (although writers never really retire!) she enjoys taking short road trips around the province with her husband, watching their two beloved grandsons grow up and, of course, writing.


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Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

The Ormsby Review is a journal service for serious coverage of B.C. books and authors, hosted by Simon Fraser University. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Wade Davis, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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