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The Big Dig

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Just as fourteen-year-old Lucy is starting to figure out life after her mom's death, her dad ships her off to Cape John, her mom's hometown, for the summer. Worse, she has to live with her nutty great-aunt Josie, who doesn't cook edible food or suffer fools. Soon Lucy meets Colin, freshly moved from the West Coast, who's digging an enormous hole in his new yard. He spends Just as fourteen-year-old Lucy is starting to figure out life after her mom's death, her dad ships her off to Cape John, her mom's hometown, for the summer. Worse, she has to live with her nutty great-aunt Josie, who doesn't cook edible food or suffer fools. Soon Lucy meets Colin, freshly moved from the West Coast, who's digging an enormous hole in his new yard. He spends every day digging deeper in protest of his family's unilateral decision to move to this tiny oceanside community. As Colin digs in the ground, Lucy digs through her family's history, and eventually both of them uncover a shocking truth. The Big Dig asks big questions of its readers: Are secrets ever okay? What defines a family? And can we ever really know our parents? Lisa Harrington's light and funny voice blends seamlessly with Lucy's grief, creating an authentic and riveting emotional landscape.


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Just as fourteen-year-old Lucy is starting to figure out life after her mom's death, her dad ships her off to Cape John, her mom's hometown, for the summer. Worse, she has to live with her nutty great-aunt Josie, who doesn't cook edible food or suffer fools. Soon Lucy meets Colin, freshly moved from the West Coast, who's digging an enormous hole in his new yard. He spends Just as fourteen-year-old Lucy is starting to figure out life after her mom's death, her dad ships her off to Cape John, her mom's hometown, for the summer. Worse, she has to live with her nutty great-aunt Josie, who doesn't cook edible food or suffer fools. Soon Lucy meets Colin, freshly moved from the West Coast, who's digging an enormous hole in his new yard. He spends every day digging deeper in protest of his family's unilateral decision to move to this tiny oceanside community. As Colin digs in the ground, Lucy digs through her family's history, and eventually both of them uncover a shocking truth. The Big Dig asks big questions of its readers: Are secrets ever okay? What defines a family? And can we ever really know our parents? Lisa Harrington's light and funny voice blends seamlessly with Lucy's grief, creating an authentic and riveting emotional landscape.

36 review for The Big Dig

  1. 4 out of 5

    James Fisher

    For a YA book, The Big Dig is quite long and drawn out. I don't picture it holding a young reader's interest. There's no real adventure to be had, just a big family secret that all the adults are keeping from the kids. For a YA book, The Big Dig is quite long and drawn out. I don't picture it holding a young reader's interest. There's no real adventure to be had, just a big family secret that all the adults are keeping from the kids.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue Slade

    My son and I read this book together, with me enjoying it more than he did, so we averaged our rating. Since the book was based in the 70s there were several references that had to be explained to him, things that were definitely before his time. He may also have enjoyed the book more if he had been older when we read it- say 14 or older. We did like the fact that it was based in Nova Scotia with familiar places and sights.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    **Sponsored by Digitally Lit** I thoroughly enjoyed this. The pop culture references were a hit and the writing was witty. This is my favourite book I’ve read with Digitally Lit so far! Digitally Lit is a youth engagement strategy aimed at bridging literary and digital practices with Atlantic Canadian youth. Follow us on Instagram @digitally_lit, like us on Facebook and find us at digitallylit.ca.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pascale

    I wish this had been available to me when I was a teenager, as it is exactly the kind of mystery that would have caught my attention!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    Yay Canadian writers! You rock! Um, having said that I need to clarify that I prefer Canadian writers who write about Canadian locations that are recognizably Canadian. I had to look deep into this story to find any references whatsoever to time, setting and local characters, and sadly they were scarce. If I hadn't been told upfront that this story occurred in 1976 and 1977, I would never have guessed it wasn't at least early 2000s, and that only because there are no cell phones. I couldn't find Yay Canadian writers! You rock! Um, having said that I need to clarify that I prefer Canadian writers who write about Canadian locations that are recognizably Canadian. I had to look deep into this story to find any references whatsoever to time, setting and local characters, and sadly they were scarce. If I hadn't been told upfront that this story occurred in 1976 and 1977, I would never have guessed it wasn't at least early 2000s, and that only because there are no cell phones. I couldn't find any references to clothing or music or events that would anchor the characters in that time period, and as for setting, we saw a beach and a few boats, but it could have been Cape Cod or the south of France. There were no Nova Scotian turns of phrase, no references that I could find to local foods. If anyone ate fiddleheads or finnan haddie I guess I missed it. (And saying someone had "passed" would have been a very unusual turn of phrase coming from anyone there. They died. The only time you heard that word used was in June when you found out whether you had "passed" from one grade to the next. It was the opposite of "failed.") That left the story feeling generic and a little bare around the edges, with more telling than showing and what seemed like colourless conversational info dumping. I was a bit thrown off by details that seemed incongruous and didn't really ring true for me (view spoiler)[the emerald bracelets seemed to come from another story (hide spoiler)] combined with others that described common East Coast family history (view spoiler)[passing on babies from one family to another happened surprisingly often, even in my own family, for a huge variety of reasons, and the children themselves sometimes were indeed not told until adulthood, even when the rest of the community knew every detail. (hide spoiler)] I have to be honest and admit I lost interest a fair way along the road and started skipping along to the last section to see what happened. I'd give this Nova Scotia author a second chance with future books, hoping they'll be a bit less telly and a bit more showy and a whole lot more East Coasty.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I loved this book, especially the fact that it was set in 1970's Nova Scotia. It is beautifully written story of loss and a family learning to reconnect. I have already recommended it to my students and added it to my classroom library. I loved this book, especially the fact that it was set in 1970's Nova Scotia. It is beautifully written story of loss and a family learning to reconnect. I have already recommended it to my students and added it to my classroom library.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I loved it. I think that early teens will love it as well. It’s interesting to think of the time before cell phones and unlimited channels. Stuck as a visitor in a small town what would you do?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Dobson

    Loved this! Another great story from Lisa!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meredith James

    I loved the symbolism in this book! It was interesting and heartfelt, and Kit had me laughing throughout the whole thing! Another excellent piece by Lisa Harrington!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Butland

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sass

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ally Camble

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lexi Harrington

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cee

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jo Yhard

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kkharvey

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jane Elliott

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nimbus Publishing

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Vanamburg

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Quinones

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Dyment

  29. 4 out of 5

    Geri Barnes

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  31. 4 out of 5

    Darla

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jessika

  33. 5 out of 5

    Ann Lun

  34. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  35. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Smith

  36. 4 out of 5

    Paola

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