When How I Spent My Summer Holidays was first published in 1981 a Western reviewer wrote: "If Who Has Seen the Wind told the story of a young boy's coming to terms with death, How I Spent My Summer Holidays tells of a young man's attempt to come to terms with his own sexuality and that of the world around him."
The twelve-year-old young man is Hugh, and in small-town Saskatchewan it is the hot summer of 1924. When Hugh and his friends dig a secret cave out on the Prairie, they soon find it occupied by an escaped patient from the mental hospital. Defying the adult world, the boys become involved with a former war hero and current rum-runner, King Motherwell, in sheltering and feeding the runaway. When passions aroused by sex explode into murder, Hugh leaves his boyhood behind him for ever.