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The Empress of Idaho

Written by: Todd Babiak
Narrated by: Roger Wayne
Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
3 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling and award-winning author Todd Babiak returns with an immersive and affecting story about a teenager's fascination with an enigmatic new woman in town whose past is catching up with her.

Monument, Colorado, July 1989. Fourteen-year-old Adam Lisinski is mesmerized the moment Beatrice Cyr steps into his life. Adam has a lot going for him: he's hoping to be a starter on his high school football team, he has a fiercely protective mom, a girlfriend, and a part-time job at Eugene's Gas Stop, where he works with his best friend. But he neglects everything that matters to him after Beatrice, his neighbour's enigmatic new wife, comes to town. Soon he finds himself alone with her - in the change room at Modern You, a clothing store on Second Street; in the back row of the theatre at Chapel Hill Cinema; in the front seat of her truck. He's confused about who she is, what she wants, and where she comes from. 

Adam is desperate, caught between wanting to spend time with Beatrice - whose past is catching up with her - and lying to everyone he cares about. The guilt overwhelms him. And when Beatrice convinces Adam's mom to quit her job and partner in a risky real estate venture, he has to do something before everything spins further out of control. The plan he comes up with tests his courage and leads him to an unshakable truth about loyalty and love. 

By turns riveting and tender-hearted, The Empress of Idaho is a story about the vulnerability and confusion of adolescence at the moment when it slams against adulthood. It's an unforgettable portrait of a boy's difficult coming of age.

©2019 Todd Babiak (P)2019 McClelland & Stewart

What the critics say

”If Gillian Flynn, Richard Ford, Vladimir Nabokov, and John Irving got together to write a novel, they would come up with The Empress of Idaho. Todd Babiak has gotten very close to perfection here. Plan ahead before you start - once you do, you will not be able to stop.” (Cathal Kelly, author of Boy Wonders)

The Empress of Idaho is like a 1980s Lolita turned into a darkly compulsive miniseries by Jean-Marc Vallée - starring a beautiful teenage boy. An achingly tender read shot through with Babiak’s humour and grace, this novel charms you as it haunts you. I could not put it down.” (Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker)

“Todd Babiak’s writing is so perceptive and witty, his characters so thick with life that you’ll find yourself carried along the novel’s twists and turns as though you’re right there in 1989 in Colorado alongside them. Part dark comedy, part thriller, and part coming-of-age tale, The Empress of Idaho is a kaleidoscope of masterful storytelling.” (Amy Stuart, author of Still Mine)

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Compulsive Listening

Todd Babiak has written a raunchy and daring coming-of-age novel, set in small town, late 1980s America. Compulsive listening as the 14 year old protagonist goes from one funny but darkly distressing crisis to another.