The Smell of Paint

The Smell of Paint

'The Smell of Paint' by Sheryl McFarlane

Coping with Loss and the Meaning of Friendship

  • The Smell of Paint
  • Written by Sheryl McFarlane
  • ISBN: 1-55041-457-7
  • 5 x 8.75, 192 pages, Trade Paper
  • $14.95 CDN / $12.95 US

About The Smell of Paint

The story is about Jess who is a natural born runner. When she’s chosen for the city track team, she tests the waters with her two best friends, Jill and Jen who assure her that she has what it takes. Unfortunately, her mother doesn’t share her excitement, nor does she understand Jess’ interest in track and field , especially with Jess’ older sister about to win a scholarship to a prestigious music school! When her mom signs Jess up for an art class that conflicts with track practise, Jess loses it. She loves her mom, but she is determined to be an athlete. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Brendan is a javelin thrower on the same track team, but Jess won’t let even him distract her from her goal to be the best. Her mother’s sudden cancer diagnosis changes everything. Anger, denial, bargaining and isolation fuel Jess’s track season as she runs her way to the provinicals. But will her mother even be around to watch her win?

Excerpt from The Smell of Paint

Sympathy Sucks: School sucks. Now all the teachers are in on it. Four different teachers made me stay after class for little chats. I'm surprised that the principal didn't call me in for noe too. If tomorrow isn't better, I am seriously quitting school and taking up cooking.


“McFarlane leads the reader into Jess¹s busy world. You will be laughing and crying along with her as she pursues her dreams.”
Andrea Gordon

“Sheryl McFarlane perfectly captures the humor, anger and sadness of a family dealing with grief in this sensitive portrayal of a teenage girl coping with loss and learning about the value of true friendship.”

Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Moonbeam Award gold medal

Awards and Honours

  • The Smell of Paint was short-listed for the 2008 Saskatchewan’s Readers’ ChoiceWillow Award.
  • The Smell of Paint is the gold medal winner of the Moonbeam Award in the Young Adult category.
  • 2007 Victoria Butler Book Prize nominee.

Author’s Inspiration

Photo of Sheryl with Cloe and Katie at a BC track championship

My daughters Cloe and Katie were partly the inspiration for the main character of The Smell of Paint.

“Some people paint with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.'”

This is a quote from one of the all time great US track athletes that inspires Jess, the main character in The Smell of Paint.


Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Victoria, 2006

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