Skids by Cathleen With
Skid row: an impoverished neighbourhood, a phrase originating in the Depression era. Skids: tire marks in the street. Skids: street kids.
The stories told in Skids are elegiac confessions of the street: young kids living on their own, many of them runaways or addicts, eking out an existence in the brutal environs of Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Often harrowing, these are the tales of the disenfranchised: teens and young adults holed up in shelters or city parks, in detox clinics or recovery houses, their secrets laid bare, their voices heard. Told in the vernacular of the street, these stories reverberate with a sense of urgency and desperation, but amidst the chaos, there are also acts of compassion and displays of camaraderie; as readers, we are compelled to know them, to not avert their glances.
Skids is based on the author's personal experience trying to get clean in recovery houses among street youths; while not homeless herself, she had many friends who were. For Cathleen, writing Skids was a way to pay homage to the kids she befriended, many of whom are now gone; Skids honours their stories, and makes them matter.