Dagan Cadden knows that one day he will grow up and be a hard man like his Da. It's what Cadden men do. It's what Cadden men have always done. Dagan dreams of the day when he is old enough to join his Da in the coal mines of Cape Breton. He dreams of the day when he is old enough to raise a few pints with his Da down at Duncan's Pub. Dagan dreams for that day because he knows that on that day he will be a man, just like his Da.
The older Dagan gets the more he begins to suspect that he can't be like his Da. His Da's hands are powerful things stained by the earth and blood, while his own hands are soft and stained with paint and pastel. Dagan discovers that maybe his hands were made for something besides swinging a pick ax for a living. Dagan's hands can draw. As his abilities as an artist expand so do his expectations about his future. He sees a place for himself away from the coal mine and perhaps away from Cape Breton itself. Dagan knows that if he follows his dreams of becoming an artist, he will have to break some of the rock-hard traditions of his family and be the first Cadden man to turn his back on the pit and make his way toward an uncertain future.
In his first book, Brian Tucker captures the humour and colloquial weirdness of New Waterford, Cape Breton, through the eyes of Dagan as a child and a young man. Big White Knuckles is a remarkably funny and poignant book about courage and sacrifice and what it takes to become the person you want while remaining loyal to the things that made you what you are.