Where We Come From: A Fictional Study of Shame is a creative writing thesis that investigates family dynamics revolving around addiction, family shame, and rehabilitation. Taking place in modern day in the year of 2016, the novel alternates between two perspectives: China Rose Lewycka and her father Alek Lewycka. The novel begins with China Rose’s story as she checks into rehabilitation for alcoholism and sex addiction in Arizona, while her father encounters his personal failings back home in Nanaimo, BC. As the novel progresses, the setting shifts to Myanmar where Alek has traveled under the deluded belief of finding salvation through religion. Later, China Rose follows him fearing he seeks self harm.
Where We Come From is a study of shame moving within and between bodies, a commentary on the prevalence of cultural tourism, and a glance at cultural dynamics. The novel asks the reader what it means to be rehabilitated. Religious discomfort is a common theme that is brought up by the discussion of healing and rehabilitation. The critical afterword, “Hungry Ghosts: Pursuing Shame in Where We Come From,” uses affect theory and addiction studies to deconstruct the novel’s approach to communication, relationships, and travel. With the help of theorists including Elspeth Probyn, Eve Sedgwick, and Gabor Maté among others, the exegesis narrows in on the prevalence of awkwardness, abjection, shame, and humour within the novel.