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After leaving the Russian homeland, Jess Klassen's Mennonite forebearers carved out an existence in the Saskatchewan prairie, separate from wider society. Jess is sixteen and aware that, despite her father's intellectual leanings, she is in an impossible position--being the homosexual daughter of the president of the Mennonite college. She hits the road in search of a language and the freedom to speak it. On the train to Winnipeg she is found by Freya, Icelandic princess of her dreams. Halfsteinn, reliable fisherman and expert in the fine art of handrolling cigarettes, enters Jess' life, helping her escape emotional captivity. Jess runs further and faster, embracing pot-head, videogame-playing housemates in the world away from her Mennonite being. After visiting the bed of every available (or reasonably available) woman in her small university town, she meets Shea. Jess can barely utter the name--afraid of the word, the woman, the possibility, and her own past. Moving forward, Jess makes her move back.
Somewhere Else is a beautiful and powerfully affecting book. I love Jan Braun's writing and I absolutely admire her courage and grace. -- Miriam Toews
As a work of prairie literature, Somewhere Else is sure to stand out. Jess Klassen is clearly the powerful product of a very powerful landscape. Identity; it's what we all strive for, to know exactly where we stand. And Braun has certainly established herself as an up-and-coming Canadian writer with this book. -- Jennifer Pawluk, The Uniter