Road to Nowhere
Book 1 in the Transition Series
Geoff Foster is a teenager like thousands, approaching his final school exams and hoping to go to university. Unlike many of them, though, he faces two complications. Firstly, he is disabled, with limited control of the left side of his body and prone to health problems. Secondly, his family is falling apart. The combined effect pitches him into a turmoil of confusion, fear and illness that threatens to destroy him. Set in South Africa in 1990, this story tells of Geoff’s struggle to find his road and his direction in a life that seems destined to go nowhere – to learn to trust in friendship; to believe in himself and in his dreams.
In its telling, the story touches on the societal and physical barriers faced by people with disabilities, the long-term impacts of growing up in a dysfunctional family, and the ways in which lives are shaped by the apparently subtle effects of mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and loneliness. Most of all, the book emphasises the importance of having a dream, and pursuing it with single-minded determination, regardless of the obstacles.
“Nicola’s Road To Nowhere serves to encompass the helluva life that can result from being born disabled into a family that thinks it’s gonna work, and living with the self-blame because it doesn’t. In this Nicola succeeds, drawing on her own personal experience of being in a “shoot me, I’m worthless” state of mind, and of seeing such a mindset mirrored in the attitudes and the actions of those she has to take care of, and from general observation of people around her.
Geoff’s self-proclaimed inability to strike back is what, in his eyes, makes him worthless (not worth the help or care he’s getting). The supporting cast of characters are smooth, intermittent background vocals to Geoff’s main, constant and never certain internal monologue draw you in because you wanna hold the poor kid’s hand, man. You wanna keep it slow so you can keep pace with his hobble, so that you and he can climb this cliff together and make it to the top so that he can have someone who can relate.
So next time Geoff moans, slap him. Point out that if this road leads to nowhere, why do results and the constant extending of helping hands suggest otherwise?”
“I really enjoyed reading this book. It brought back memories of a period in my life that was not always pleasant but was also exciting. The author dealt with these conflicting emotional tugs in a way that indicated her sensitivity and ability to handle difficult emotional strains.
The subject matter of the book covers many aspects of ‘growing up’ such as making and breaking of relationships, the development of trust and dealing with people of a wide spectrum of capabilities, all of which the author handled with maturity.
The book is aimed at primarily at young adults, but the calibre of the writing demands a wider audience. For those of you who wish to revisit your adolescent years, this book is a must on your reading list.”
“Anyone who has ever endured a high school classroom will identify with the characters in this story. Anyone who has ever felt insecure or uncertain about themselves will identify with Geoff: physically disabled, socially isolated and faced with terrible angst and fear at his parents’ irreconcilable separation and the inevitable loss of his family. These conflicts trigger his descent into dangerous illness, while he and his sister struggle to survive emotionally through their parents’ bitter divorce. This story is a page-turner of note. Geoff and Megan, his sister, are faced with living apart from their parents while the divorce is being processed. Although they are devastated by the prospect of leaving their parents and living temporarily with sympathetic teachers, Geoff and Megan push through the heartbreak and uncertainty of it all to survive the rest of the school year; Geoff’s matric year. Will Geoff achieve the results he needs to get a university pass? With academic strength to offset his physical challenges, that has always been his dream for an independent life.
Will he be able to achieve it? Will Megan be able to support her brother, endure the rest of the school year, and also survive her parents’ acrimonious divorce and custody wars? These are questions which are raised in the first few chapters of this novel. Will Geoff be able to forge a new path for himself, despite his disability and his insecurities? Will he be able find a new sense of family and of belonging? A riveting read. Highly recommended.”
Morag Letty Liebenberg
“I was fortunate enough to have received a signed copy of Nicola’s book, Road to Nowhere – one of the few printed samples made available when it was first published. Nicola and I met many years ago when we were in high school, lost touch as happens in so many high school friendships, and then met again at a school reunion dinner decades later. We were seated alongside each other when each of us heard the other mention “child with bipolar disorder” mentioned, and turned to each other with an amazed “You too?!” I was delighted to renew our connection, to get to know her as a mother and an academic, to renew and grow our connections as friends, and to be fellow explorers along the path of raising non-neurotypical children. Nicola’s love of writing started during her school years and she was always extremely grammatically correct and used a wide vocabulary.
Road to Nowhere is a “real” story. Although the characters are fictitious, I found it very easy to step into their lives and understand the story from a personal perspective as I have a child myself who has numerous issues. It was an easy read, so interesting and I could relate to all the characters in the story and also to the environments – geographical, physical and emotional. Nicola was able to make me feel Geoff and the other character’s emotions, understand their separate lives, to walk alongside them during the story and to really be within the story. I cannot wait for the next book in the series to be published.”
“What a fascinating story. I enjoyed being witness to Geoff’s maturing when he entered university. Very seldom do characters in a novel that I am reading invade my private space but I found Ian, Megs and Geoff invading my thoughts at weird times. I even met up with them in my dreams.
At first I was sympathetic to Geoff’s circumstances. I abhorred the issues that people had forced on him. They had forced him to internalise his problems to the point of illness. I couldn’t understand the lack of empathy from people who were meant to protect him. As the book progressed I found my sympathy turning into a wordless cheer spurring him on to realise his full potential.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.”