Open Arms

Freehand Books re-issue, 2009

A broken heart, that old phrase; I didn’t realize it would feel
like a plate breaking in the middle of your chest.

Bessie Smith Connolly has lived with her Nova Scotia grandparents since she was small. But at seventeen—grieving the death of her steadfast grandfather, smarting from a split with the boy she loves—she escapes to Saskatoon to be with her mother, Isabel. Bittersweet, clear-eyed, and deeply affecting, this marvellous debut novel charts Bessie’s course as she makes her way through her exploded family and out into the world.

Finalist for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award

From a recent review from Fernie Fix, by Angie Abdou:
Open Arms is an emotional ride. When I least expected it, I found myself in tears. As a theatre student, Bessie is often accused of being insincere, of acting her way through life. In a fit of anger and jealousy, the one boy she loves tells her: “Faking it, being able to fake it, lessens the real power of life. Pretending to love lessens love.” What Bessie and those around her have to learn is how to step away from the script, drop expectations based on convention, and finally find the real power of the life and genuine love that they already possess.

Open Arms is an impressive debut. It tackles a subject as old as life itself and gives it a newness and an honesty. Marina Endicott is a writer to watch.”
The Hamilton Spectator

“Endicott’s writing is clear as fast-running water and hard as gemstones. She writes with wisdom, grace and conviction. Open Arms demonstrates a lucid, hard-won faith in the ability of people to find love and hold on tight. It’s hard to imagine wishing for anything more.”
The Vancouver Sun

Open Arms, by Marina Endicott, meets one of my major criteria for successful novels: three weeks after reading it I can still recall characters, scenes, and events… Endicott is an excellent storyteller and this is a substantial, sweet-natured novel, full of hope and promise.”
–W. P. Kinsella, Books in Canada

“[Endicott’s] novel offers lucid, unembellished prose that hides convolutions of deeper meaning. Six girls and women are the linked heroines of this deceptively episodic tale–deceptive because events scattered over thousands of miles and several decades are finally fused into a striking emotional whole, a continuum of fractured, rarely spoken, but persistent and mysterious love.”
The Globe and Mail

Open Arms is the story of a young woman’s quest. Her search is for a mother, her hope is for a final, hard-won comprehension, a reprieve from the ache of being human. But, as in the finest of quest stories, comprehension does not come at some big, dramatic end, it comes all along the complicated way. Marina Endicott’s vision is evidence that the journey itself, although lonely and uncharted, can be filled with both clues and consolation.”
Bonnie Burnard, author of A Good House