My debut novel, In the Key of Dale, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in October 2022 and is available worldwide in print, ebook, and audiobook formats, as well as in Italian.
Trade paperback, Arsenal Pulp Press: 11 October 2022 (Canada) / 1 November 2022 (Rest of the World)
Ebook, Arsenal Pulp Press: 11 October 2022 (Canada) / 1 November 2022 (Rest of the World)
Audiobook, narrated by Michael Crouch, Orange Sky Audio: 1 November 2022
Italian translation (La musica di Dale), translated by Silvia Mercurio, Gallucci (Rome): 21 April 2023
For fans of the Netflix series Heartstopper (based on the bestselling graphic novels by Alice Oseman) comes a disarming coming-of-age novel about a queer teen music prodigy who discovers pieces of himself in places he never thought to look.
Sixteen-year-old Dale Cardigan is a loner who’s managed to make himself completely invisible at his all-boys high school. He doesn’t fit with his classmates (he gives them funny nicknames in his head), his stepbrother (nobody at school knows they’re related), or even his mother (she never quite sees how gifted a musician Dale might be)—but they don’t fit with him either. And he’s fine with that. To him, high school and home are stages to endure until his real life can finally begin.
After Dale is unable to locate his father’s grave at the cemetery, he starts writing letters addressed to his father, initially to tell him everything he can’t bring himself to tell his mother and then as a way to keep track of some unexpected developments. Somewhat against his will, he befriends his classmate Rusty, who gets a rare look at Dale’s complex life outside school. Their friendship gets awkward when it seems Dale’s growing attraction to Rusty is doomed to remain one-sided, but it’s to Rusty that Dale turns when he stumbles upon a family secret.
In the Key of Dale is a beguiling, pitch-perfect book about growing up, fitting in, and finding a way out of grief and loneliness toward the melodic light of adulthood.
“In the Key of Dale is pitch perfect. I fell in love with Dale Cardigan, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Full of complex characters and relationships, this is a debut novel with great heart. Read it!”
—Bill Konigsberg, award-winning author of The Music of What Happens
“In the Key of Dale is an ode to queer teens—and artists!—who boldly found ways to stay true to themselves while also coping in places that weren’t always supportive. Told with humour and compassion, Benjamin Lefebvre’s epistolary grief narrative will have readers both laughing and crying—sometimes at the same time.”
—Melanie J. Fishbane, author of Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery
“Lefebvre delivers a fresh, poignant, and deeply intimate narrative for the modern reader. Dale Cardigan may be a teenager, but his search for meaning in love and music is a reminder to all of us that finding your own melody is magic.”
—Vanessa Brown, author of The Forest City Killer: A Serial Killer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice
“Dale Cardigan is an unforgettable teenager who is unapologetically true to himself. I want to adopt Dale as my fictional nephew and invite him and his friend Rusty over for dinner. Benjamin Lefebvre writes about grief, sexuality, and family with wit and wordplay. Dale is going through all the awful, wonderful, huge feelings that come with being alive, and reading In the Key of Dale, I went through all those emotions with him. Lefebvre has written a moving celebration of teenage friendship, sex, and creative life.”
—Susie Taylor, author of Even Weirder Than Before
“By turns snarkily funny and wrenchingly poignant, Benjamin Lefebvre’s debut novel is a pitch-perfect paean to the geeks, loners, and musical prodigies you knew—or were—in high school. As a geek/loner/former music ‘prodigy’ myself, I can tell you that In the Key of Dale contains not a single false note. A revelatory delight from beginning to end.”
—C.E. Gatchalian, author of Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man
“In the Key of Dale . . . was everything I wanted and more from a charming, queer coming-of-age story. . . . With perfect pacing and just the right balance of heartbreak, humour, and tension to pull at my heart strings, [this is] a coming-of-age book that everyone should want to read.”
—The Ampersand Review
“Complex, thoughtful, and compelling: In the Key of Dale is sure to strike a chord.”
—Quill and Quire
“A love song to introversion. . . . In the Key of Dale is a worthy teen read.”
—Canadian Children’s Book News
“Lefebvre writes about grief, sexuality, and family with great success. . . . Highly recommended.”
—CM: Canadian Review of Materials