Sexual awakening can be messy business.
Tillie Bishop never knew her father, and when her mother abandons her, Tillie quickly becomes streetwise. But even in Calgary, forces of the coming 1960s—a decade of rebellion, discovery, and upheaval—already are at work within her. As a Canadian Girl in Training, she’s tried to follow their Christian guidelines, but she prefers to make up her own. She smokes cigarettes in the church bathroom during the group’s meetings and plays kissing games afterward with neighborhood boys. Barely a teenager, glamour becomes her new guiding star, and she fantasizes about a future of dating men and having sex.
At seventeen, during a stay in Toronto, she becomes a band groupie and throws herself into the “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” scene—just what she she’s been looking for. Then, seeking more adventure, she moves to San Francisco, drawn to its psychedelic night life, leading to a deeper downward spiral. However, Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self.
Tillie takes readers on a wild ride through a period of riotous personal and cultural change. Join her if you dare!
"In Confessions of a Canadian Girl in Training, Lily Iona MacKenzie has created a child who will be a seeker has done so with compassionate understanding of this character’s confusion. Tillie is not just any child. The hard-scrabble life Tillie and her mother lead is set primarily in Calgary, Alberta, with a brief time on a prairie farm. MacKenzie knows the landscape she is painting, from the Canadian cities to the prairie “flatter than their dinner plates” and the endless sky.
She takes her reader to the down-on-your-luck Calgary hotels, the Calgary Zoo, and the Stampede, with both the excitement of the rodeo and the sordid underbelly of the midway at night. But Tillie hungers for more adventure and spends time in both Vancouver and Toronto before she turns eighteen. Eventually, she “escapes” to San Francisco. This is the story of a journey, and Lily Iona MacKenzie navigates it expertly. She knows her craft.
—Betty Jane Hegerat, Canadian author of Odd One Out, The Boy, Delivery, A Crack in the Wall, and other memorable books
“Tillie was born as innocent as any babe, but her life wasn’t meant to follow the typical path of other girls. With the era of free love, hippies, and drugs looming, she finds herself on a train to San Francisco and a path to self-destruction. Lily Iona MacKenzie deftly takes readers into that throbbing, psychedelic world of drugs, booze, and one-night stands where they will root for Tillie as she struggles to find herself. You will be swept along as she learns that true happiness is seldom found amid the glitter and grime. It’s hiding somewhere else … in plain sight. A well-written and visceral story.”
—Janice Gilbertson, author of Summer of ’58, Canyon House, and The Dark Side of Gibson Road
4.5 Heart Review by Lorena
I loved that this book took place in the 1960's, a completely different era that I certainly was not privy to since I was born in the 70's. But I saw many movies and read books that took place in the 60's and I certainly thought that it was a cool era to live in.
Tillie Bishop has gone on a quest to experience what life is all about especially when she was abandoned and she had nobody to lead her, mentor her or guide her. Her journey takes her from Canada to the States and she will experience some highs and lows throughout her journey.
I felt like I could see myself as Tillie back in that era and I think I would have enjoyed very much living in it. She seemed to have enjoyed her youth and her adulthood and her experiences from one country to the next. Life is all about experiences and Tillie wasn't afraid to explore at her age and I give her props for that. She was a courageous girl who wasn't afraid to take leaps and go forward.
This novel will certainly take you on an adventure you will highly enjoy!
About the Author
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in Lily Iona MacKenzie’s early years, she supported herself as a stock girl, as a long-distance operator, and as a secretary. She also was a cocktail waitress at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (she was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, co-created The Story Shoppe, a weekly radio program for children that aired on KTIM in Marin, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities).
She has published poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction in over 165 venues. She also has published three novels: Fling! (2015), Curva Peligrosa, (2017), and Freefall: A Divine Comedy (2019). A sequel to Freefall, The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up, will come out in October 2021. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011, and her poetry chapbook No More Kings in 2020. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning and blogs at http://lilyionamackenzie.com.