The Rooftop Garden

ECW. Feb. 2024. 6:37 hrs. ISBN 9781778523212. $23.99. F
Podcaster and author Raman-Wilms’s skilled debut tells the story of Nabila and Matthew, whose childhood friendship was forged in the hours they spent playing in the garden atop Nabila’s apartment building in Toronto. But their friendship was clandestine; they didn’t speak to each other at school, and Nabila would busy herself with random tasks so as not to be seen leaving school with Matthew. Then the two would meet in the garden and spend hours imagining a submerged rooftop Eden where only they existed. As they grew up, however, they also grew apart. Nabila becomes immersed in her research studying seaweed in warming oceans and is increasingly concerned with the increasingly fragile environment. Meanwhile, Matthew’s loneliness, insecurity, and lack of place lead him down a dangerous path to a group interested in changing the world in more sinister ways. Raman-Wilms deftly moves the story between the characters’ childhood and the present day, where Nabila has traveled to Berlin to save Matthew—or so she hopes—before it is too late. Narrator Alison Deon offers a clear and sensitive performance, skillfully conveying Nabila’s conflicting emotions and hope for the future.
VERDICT Storytelling at its finest, interweaving themes of friendship, climate change, and radicalism with finesse and care.★
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