The Arts & Spirituality Feature in Local Author’s New YA Novel
August 25, 2018, Waterloo—Lori Wolf-Heffner struggled as a teen. Shy in person but comfortable on stage, a strong student in many subjects but too embarrassed to get help in difficult ones, Wolf-Heffner dove into the arts and spirituality to sort things out. Through her new YA novel, Between Worlds 1: The Move, she explores how the arts and spirituality can lead to different ways of coping with life.
The Moveis the first in this series about Juliana Roth, a 14-year-old competitive dancer who has to move across the country from Calgary to Kitchener with her parents to live with her grandfather. Leaving behind her close friends to squish into her grandfather’s tiny bungalow and celebrate Christmas with extended family she barely knows, Juliana is cut off from everything familiar to her. (She won’t get Internet access or a new SIM card until after Christmas.)
Juliana isn’t alone in her struggles, but the teenage girl who helps her is long gone and only present in a book of pencil drawings and the fading memories of Juliana’s grandfather, himself in the early stages of dementia.
Elisabeth Schuhmacher, Juliana’s great grandmother, is 14 years old and lives in a village that was transferred from Hungary to Romania in the aftermath of World War I. Too old for school anymore, Elisabeth has relied on her father to continue her education. However, her father’s move to America just before Advent in 1919 leaves her mother in charge of his shoemaking business and Elisabeth in charge of the household, including her three younger siblings. Elisabeth, a Lutheran, turns to her religion and drawings to find ways to cope.
“The novel isn’t autobiographical,” Wolf-Heffner says. “For starters, I was certainly not put in charge of my sister when I was 14 years old, and there’s a reason I hired a graphics designer for the cover.”
However, dance played a big role in Wolf-Heffner’s life. “During the later years in elementary school, and in high school, I danced about 20 hours or so a week. If anything upset me, and I was home alone, I cranked up the music and danced around the kitchen to feel better.”
Wolf-Heffner is upset by the lack of attention the arts has been getting these days, and seeing all the religious intolerance out there angers her.
“Don’t get me wrong: I don’t tolerate everything,” she says. “I believe in a diverse society, and that means disagreeing with various beliefs and dogmatic practices. But I know spirituality, whether expressed via an organized religion or in an individualized way, has helped a lot of people get through life, too, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that it can play that role in people’s lives.”
Between Worlds 1: The Move will be available on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks beginning September 1. Wolf-Heffner will be at an international event at the Schwaben Club on September 1 and 2 for the book’s release. For more information, please visit www.loriwolfheffner.com.