Marta Elzinga, a floundering guidance counsellor, has been searching for a sign—the stigmata, Jesus’s face in an oil puddle, an angel visitation. When she spots a mink on the shoreline of the Toronto Island Airport, she thinks it’s been sent to her, and the pigeon who boards the subway at Bathurst station is the second sign. But how to read these divine dispatches?
Plagued with indecision and prone to magical thinking, Marta needs direction. She suspects she went astray way back in grade twelve, the year her former boyfriend hanged himself. Now she struggles to meet the needs of her charming but unstable husband, as well as the students for whom she’s responsible, last names from K to N.
During a tour of historical buildings in Toronto, Marta visits an abandoned subway station, where she chances to meet a former student. He invites her to join him in some urban exploration—tunnel running and draining. And so, in the late evenings, Marta comes to traverse the dangerous geography underneath the city’s streets; she slips into manholes hidden in Toronto’s ravines and parks. Through the journeys, Marta confronts the coils and bends in her own thinking about providence, chance and personal responsibility.
“A curious portrait, rebellious and spiritual, of a soul’s healing: it touched me with its sense of possibility.” —Kathleen Winter, author of Annabel