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5 stars for The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up by @lilyionamac #fiction #comingofage #bookreview

Title: The Ripening: A Canadian Girl Grows Up

Author: Lily Iona MacKenzie

Genre: Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Book Blurb:

Sexual awakening can be messy business.

Tillie Bishop never knew her father, and when her mother abandons her, Tillie quickly becomes streetwise. Even in Calgary, forces of the coming 1960s—a decade of rebellion, discovery, and upheaval—are already 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’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!


Tillie Bishop eventually becomes a visual artist and changes her name to Tillie Bloom. Follow the older Tillie in Freefall: A Divine Comedy. She’ll take you into an art world you’ll never forget.

My Review:

Free spirit Tillie experiments with all that life throws at her in a quest for self-identity and self-expression in the 1960s. Tillie Bishop has always been a free spirit but her journey to find herself takes her from being abandoned by her mother to surviving by any means necessary to experience what life is all about. It is a long and twisted road with many pitfalls. From Calgary to Toronto to San Francisco, Tillie embraces the sixties revolution and freedom of expression. With each adventure comes soaring highs and debilitating lows but for Tillie, it’s shaping her into the woman she’ll become. Like an orange, she needs time to ripen to her full potential. Take an unforgettable trip to the past with Tillie and you just might find a piece of yourself you’ve been missing.

The Ripening is a gritty literary coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s. Tillie is a fascinating woman who lives by her own set of beliefs and views. I first met her in the novel, Freefall, and I instantly connected with her. When I think of a sixties young woman, Tillie’s personality immediately comes to mind. The Ripening explores a part of society not normally talked about. The descriptive narration reeled me in and didn’t let go until the very end. Through this book, I truly felt like I went back in time and lived the life of Tillie. The Ripening is a coming-of-age story but the subject matter is very adult. If sexual situations are a trigger for you, you might want to skip certain sections of this book. At the heart of this story is a young woman who learns what life is all about and how life can be what you make it. If you’re looking for a wild coming-of-age story, pick up The Ripening. Lily Iona MacKenzie transports readers to the sixties in a stunning tour de force. Highly recommend!

My Rating: 5 stars

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Author Biography:

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

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Reviewed by: Mrs. N


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