The Western Alienation Merit Badge
Nancy Jo Cullen
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Set in Calgary in 1982, in the wake of the recession that arrived on the heels of Canada's 1980 National Energy Program, The Western Alienation Merit Badge tells the story of the Murray family who are struggling with grief and the very real possibility of financial ruin. After the death of her stepmother Frances Murray is called back to Calgary to help her father, Jimmy, and sister, Bernadette, make the mortgage on the family home. When Robyn, a long lost friend, becomes their house guest tensions are ignited and Jimmy, Bernadette and Frances find themselves increasingly estranged from one another.For the Murrays, history has a way of repeating itself and as each of them wrestles with their own secrets they find themselves unable to forget and unwilling to forgive one another. Part family drama, part queer coming-of-age story, The Western Alienation Merit Badge explores the dynamics of a small family falling apart.