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2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Winner



Life has been hard for sixteen-year-old Barley Lick lately: He split with his girlfriend, his father died and now his mother has a boyfriend, a cop named Fred Newton. Not even Barley’s new Great Dane, Stanley, can make things right. Then Newton wants Barley to use his geocaching skills to help him solve a mystery; helping would mean losing a huge geocaching competition and, even worse, letting his ex-girlfriend Phyllis win. But Barley soon realizes that a young boy’s life may be in danger and time to rescue him is running out.

Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides


Reading at Quidi Vidi Brewery

What People Are Saying

Grief, geocaching, broken hearts, kidnapping and a Great Dane all combine to make The Degrees of Barley Lick a dizzying helicopter ride through a few extraordinary days in a teenager’s life. Racing against time through the breathtaking scenery of British Columbia from one geocache to the next, Barley Lick is distracted by his numbing grief for his dead father, his hostility to his mother’s new boyfriend, and his fury with his ex-girlfriend, with whom he is forced to work to solve the geocaching clues that will lead them to a kidnapped boy. Flanagan has perfectly captured the inner life of a teenage boy in emotional turmoil, bursting with hormones, resentments and bad decisions. Barley acts first and thinks later. This is an adventure book with a very human hero at its heart, who is navigating an inner landscape that is even more challenging than the wilderness where the geocaches lie hidden. Charis Cotter, award-wining author of The Ghost Road, The Swallow, and Screech!


This novel is five-star in every respect: a rollicking plot, totally entertaining and believable characters, themes of acceptance and healing, humor, romance, lively dialogue, even an environmental component. What more could you possibly want in a story that veers from teens obsessed with a competition that resembles a treasure hunt, to the opportunity – and urgent need – to stop a kidnapper from harming a child? This novel is difficult to put down, and if you don’t know what geocaching is at the start, you’ll be totally caught up in its attraction by the end. The protagonist, Barley, is a superstar at the sport, matched only by his ex-girlfriend and nemesis, Phyllis. The writing never falters; it has original expressions and fun, snappy dialogue.


“You know when you dropped me off? I walked in on this guy going at it with my mother.” The instant the words crossed his lips, Barley felt better. Things always felt better when he was with Colin. “No way.” Colin turned to look at him. “That would be emotionally scarring. What did the dude look like?” “He was huge—like some random mutant from Wrestle-Mania. But without the muscle mass.” “He sounds gross. What does your mother see in him?” “Exactly my point.”

Barley opened the passenger door and Stanley [the Great Dane] stepped in like entering a classic sports car was something he had been doing his whole life. He arranged himself in the bucket seat the way he had in the recliner, front feet on the floor, butt and back feet on the seat. He sat taller than any human with the exception of maybe an NBA player. The tip of his one upright ear touched the ceiling.

The first time Barley Lick met Phyllis Henderson, he had to hold his breath. It was the day he and Colin had gone down to White Rock to sign up at the geocaching club. The morning sun streamed in through the window, highlighting her high cheek bones and dark brown eyes. She was wearing a tiny green T-shirt and cut-off jean shorts; ragged bits of white string accentuated her thighs. Her legs were long and tanned with well-defined muscles… He couldn’t formulate words when she introduced herself. “I’m Phyllis,” she said, extending her hand. Barley remained mute. She looked at him and raised her eyebrows. Colin came over and rescued him. Colin was always rescuing Barley. “Hi, I’m Colin. This here is Barley Lick… And he can talk; just not to girls.” Colin elbowed Barley in the ribs, cackled out a laugh, and walked away.

Barley tried to raise his head, but she lowered her forehead to his. He felt her breath on his face. Her hair fell around her shoulders, tickling his cheek. It smelled like strawberries. “You’re pretty cute now that I get a good look at you.” She shifted her weight on his pelvis. He felt blood throb in his nether regions and knew she could feel it too. She lowered her lips to his ear.

"One of the more highly recommended reads of the season." YAReviews

"A vivid, visual adventure that will make you want to start geocaching!"Eric Walters

Author Susan Flanagan contract signing​

Barley Lick's arch-nemesis explains geocaching

“Geocaching is a cross between treasure hunting and high-tech orienteering... Picture a tiny bucket hidden completely out of sight in an area the size of British Columbia and you have to find it, by yourself, using only latitude and longitude. You can use GPS, but that only gets you so close to the treasure. You have to go the last eight or nine metres on your own. If you’re in the middle of a dense forest, and the bucket is well camouflaged, you need clues.

To win the GeoFind contest, you have to be the fastest to decipher and follow the clues to find the treasure. GeoFind basically involves a bunch of teenagers running around in the woods like crazed maniacs searching for objects of no value, just for the thrill of the hunt. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had.”

               ― Phyllis Henderson, 2005’s GeoFind champion.

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The Degrees of Barley Lick has been chosen for the Winter 2022 Top Grade Books List, curated by the Association of Canadian Publishers to raise awareness of Canadian children’s books with teachers and schools. Check out the YA video in the link below.

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