Sonja & Carl

A Novel

By (author): Suzanne Hillier
ISBN 9781927366561
Softcover | Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
320 Pages

About the Book

Sonja Danychuk, a serious and introverted student with dirt-poor immigrant parents, takes pride in her intellectual and academic achievements—essential skills to help her survive and eventually leave small-town Davenport in Northern Ontario. When her father is cut down by a fatal heart attack, Sonja must find a way to pay for university, so she agrees to tutor Carl Helbig, her high school’s hockey star and NHL hopeful, despite her strong aversion to his jock-like persona.

Carl graduates and heads toward becoming Rookie of the Year for the Boston Bruins, but concussion-prone, he finds himself in the brain trauma unit of the Toronto General. He and Sonja are once again drawn together, but this time the risks are life-threatening. Sonja is faced with a decision that will impact both her and Carl, and their uncertain future.

About the Author(s)

Suzanne Hillier is a former schoolteacher and retired lawyer who loves to cook for her family, cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays, and spoil her many grandchildren. Since retiring from her law firm, which she established in the 1970s, she has succumbed to her first love: writing.


“Takes you on a ride that is as heart-warming as it is wrenching, with unexpected emotion at several turns. Featuring dynamic characters with rich history, I would recommend this to lovers of well-written fiction.” —Community Captured

“Captures the nuances of Canadian culture among young adults at the turn of the 20th century.” —Gauntlet

“The story of Sonja & Carl is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It begins in their senior year of high school, and the evolution of their connection through the following years. Set in a small town in Northern Ontario, the story centres on Carl’s hockey skills and Sonja’s intellect: two opposites and the physical and emotional forces that bring them together and pull their lives apart. The piecing together of their connection was sweet and intriguing, and quickly tragic . . . This is Suzanne Hillier’s first novel, and I look forward to reading her future works.” —Girly Book Club

“Reminded me of Ken Dryden’s claim that you can only understand CTE when it’s attached to an individual story/life. Suzanne Hillier brings the horror of CTE to life through the story of Sonja and Carl. I was heartbroken at their seemingly inevitable fate. Of course that fate was not inevitable at all—which makes it all the more tragic. This is a book about consequences and about closing the gap between knowledge and actions. All sport parents (especially hockey parents) should read it.” —Angie Abdou, author of Between

“A moving tale of love, family, sacrifice and the sometimes devastating consequences of our actions.” —In the Hills magazine

“Bears similarities to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic, Anne of Green Gables, though it’s set at the turn of this millennium . . . the plot charges ahead like a Hollywood romantic comedy, with entertaining characters that readers can easily root for.” —Winnipeg Review