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The Break

by Katherena Vermette

I read this for 19. A book told from multiple POVs

A interesting and very engaging book about family and support, about who we turn to in times of trouble, and about about how people are treated by the system.

When Stella sees an assault outside her window one bleak winter’s night, a chain of events and reactions are set off that draws a family together and sorts the wheat from the chaff, emotionally speaking.

Each chapter in the book is told from a different point of view, mostly the women of the multi-generational family. Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, best friends – they are all entwined with each other; the result of each other and part of the reason for each other. At the start, the entanglement is not even obvious but as we read more of the story, so how these women are connected becomes clearer, and tighter for them.

But this is no gentle bonding experience – this book tells of lives which are hard and harsh and violent as much as they are filled with laughter and love.

The fact that this is a First Nations author writing about First Nation people gives it a unique setting and tone for readers who have not experienced this before. And for me that was wonderful. Too often the setting and past experiences of characters are so familiar to me, as a white western reader, as to be quite uninspiring. It was refreshing, but not always pleasant, to be reminded that my version of life is just that – a version. It is not the life everyone leads. That being said, this book does not seek to educate or anything- it is simply a story told authentically from a frame of reference not shared often enough.

The otherness of the reader is their business, not that of the author or the characters. The reader is other, not them.

I really enjoyed this book with only a slight drop in my wonder of it at the very end. I wasn’t the greatest fan of the end but that didn’t detract at all – and had I known when I started what I know now about the end, I would still have read the book.

Worth reading, worth thinking about and worth watching for other books by Vermette. I am interested in what she does next.

5 stars!!!

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This is my book for Read Harder Book 5 – book by a journalist

 
by Stacey Dooley

Stacey Dooley is an unexpected serious journalist and documentary maker. As she says herself, she is a girl from Luton who spent her wages on clothes and having fun. Until she didn’t any more. Until she became aware of where all the fashion she enjoyed came from, and at what cost. And then began the awakening that has resulted in this important docu-journalist telling essential stories about women and children, and the lives so many of them live.
I have seen some of her documentaries and I think they work as television because she is not your average journalist – instead she is your average woman. She speaks in a way we can all understand. We all were her, or are her.
This book works equally as well.
Each chapter is about one of the women she met during the making of a documentary. As such, each chapter gives a little more depth to the documentary and, if you have not seen it, makes the reader want to. I know I am going to be binge watching everything she has done now.

Her casual tone and chatty way of speaking makes the hard issues she is actually talking about more stark, more awful and more relevant. She is not preaching – she is just telling you what she thinks and believes. And that is powerful.

A good book worth reading whether you want to watch the documentaries or not. But do – they are worth your time

The Orange Shirt Story

by Phyllis Webstad, Brock Nicol (Illustrator)

This book could be used for 11. A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover. It may appear to be a children’s book, and could be, but it is also so much more.

A deceptively simple book – this moving story is presented as a children’s book with wonderful drawings and simple text.
But it is such a moving, sad story it haunts me
I was privileged enough to be a child who was excited to start school and then all my fantasies were fulfilled and I thrived
My heart ached for little Phyllis as she excitedly waiting to join her cousins at school only to have all of her illusions shattered.
And to know Phyllis was one of so many children makes me deeply sad. She, and all the other reservation school survivors, were denied such a great joy. School is a time of unbridled freedom, of being allowed to make mistakes and of being loved and cherished – especially for little kids.
It is not a place where scary adults should mistreat you, and certainly not where your favourite, brand new item of clothing should be taken from you. It should not be a place of hunger and loneliness – all of your senses should be stuffed to over flowing so you come home, exhausted and happy every single day. I want to hold little Phyllis and make her year at the school less bloody horrible.

But this book is more than about one horrible year for one little girl. She is just an example of a systemic cultural genocide perpetuated. And so, moving s her story is, it is so much more important than just wanting to hug a scared little girl.

A beautiful told and illustrated awful story

by Tanya Talaga

This fills  Read Harder prompt 3. A book by a woman and/or AOC that won a literary award in 2018. Talaga’s wonderful book was the winner of the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize – a prize that recognises excellence in the field of literary non-fiction.

What an amazing, moving book this is. Written in part like fiction and in part in a non-fiction style, this book is easy to read – or it would be were it not for the harrowing content.

Talaga examines the deaths of seven (and more) First Nation school children in Thunder Bay at the start of the 21st.
I kept having to stop and process the information she includes – astounded and distressed.

I am not Canadian and had some ridiculous vision of Canada as being some kind of all-inclusive utopia – and this book shattered that illusion in the harshest way.

This is an important book not just for Canadians but for anyone living a post-colonial life anywhere in the world. Because we have all treated the First Nation people of the countries we now call home appallingly – and we continue to do so.
Across the world Indigenous people get the short end of the stick in the countries they inhabited first!
It is time we all owned up to that and started making changes.

A powerful, important book

Read Harder Challenge

1. A epistolary novel or collection of letters
2. An alternate history novel
3. A book by a woman and/or AOC that won a literary award in 2018 – Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga
4. A humor book
5. A book by a journalist or about journalism – On the Front Line with Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley
6. A book by an AOC set in or about space
7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania
9. A book published prior to Jan. 1, 2019 with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads
10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman
11. A book of manga
12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character
13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
14. A cozy mystery
15. A book of mythology or folklore
16. An historical romance by an AOC
17. A business book
18. A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
19. A book of nonviolent true crime
20. A book written in prison
21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
22. A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
23. A self-published book
24. A collection of poetry published since 2014

The Witness Wore Red

by Rebecca Musser

Book 34 – A book that includes a wedding

Wow – what a story – and so many weddings!!!
How crazy is it that in modern day society this kind of weird thing goes on, right next door
I am not talking about polygamy – I have no problem with consenting adults doing whatever they want. I am talking about the wholesale brainwashing of hundreds of people. And brainwashing so that they allow these awful things to happen to themselves and each other.
How cooked are you that someone wanting to marry your 12 year old daughter is okay? How slewed your version of a god that you think he would be okay with this?
Like, I just do not get it.

And then that one girl in that society which allows girls nothing, can grow into a woman brave and articulate enough to do what Musser did, it truly extraordinary.

Her critics, including her brother, have said it was not as she remembers. I say that is 10% of what she says is true it is a travesty.
If 15 and 16 year old’s are giving birth, they were children when impregnated – by husbands 30, 40, 50 years older than them
I shudder

This is a long book with lots of detail but it keeps the reader in the whole way through. It tells her whole story from childhood to court room.
Musser is truly an amazing woman

In The Body Of The World

by Eve Ensler

Book 35 – same letter first and last name of the author

what a book
i am reeling and stunned and shocked and moved
and so very grateful to have read it
although i actually listened to it – narrated by the author – which may have been better

It is powerful and inspiring and heart wrenching and heart warming in equal measure
a profound book

it is about love and rape and cancer and surviving
and it’s about how messed up the world is and the reflection on us that is
and it’s a bit about poop and vomiting – and the bit about farting will move you

Ensler is amazing – simply, and so very complicatedly, amazing

by Shaida Kazie Ali

Book 31 – a book about family

I loved the idea of this book – two sisters telling stories of the same time in their lives, but independent of each other.
I was drawn to both sisters when reading their stories, and loved, when reading Saleena’s tale to cross reference it with Zuhra’s.
I love that idea that everything we see and experience, other people are seeing and experiencing – but differently.
This is not the main theme of the book, but it was one i really enjoyed.

This story is so uniquely South African in many ways; having a family member able to pass as white in apartheid South Africa would have done all sorts of damage to all the members of the family. Combine that with the patriarchal system of the Muslim life the girls, and then women, lived in, and you have all sorts of wonderfully complicated and convoluted dynamics in play.

At times I thought the characters and situations were a bit thin, but in hindsight I wonder if Ali expected her readers to understand the tapestry against the which the stories were happening. Did it really need to be spelled out any more? I think not actually – I think the sparseness works the one a plain ornament against textured, colourful wallpaper works.

I really liked the spiderweb of family we are introduced to – parents and siblings, in-laws and partners, children and nephews. For me, this further emphasised the importance of context for all stories and experiences, and how it defines our unique responses.

These sisters and their lives will stay with me a while

That this is a debut novel makes it even more extraordinary

 

1. A book becoming a movie in 2019
2. A book that makes you nostalgic
3. A book written by a musician (fiction or nonfiction)
4. A book you think should be turned into a movie
5. A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads
6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover
7. A reread of a favorite book
8. A book about a hobby
9. A book you meant to read in 2018
10. A book with POP, SUGAR, or CHALLENGE in the title
11. A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover – The Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad
12. A book inspired by myth/legend/folklore
13. A book published posthumously
14. A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie
15. A retelling of a classic
16. A book with a question in the title
17. A book set on college or university campus
18. A book about someone with a superpower
19. A book told from multiple POVs – The Break by Katherena Vermette
20. A book set in space
21. A book by two female authors
22. A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title
23. A book set in Scandinavia
24. A book that takes place in a single day
25. A debut novel
26. A book that’s published in 2019
27. A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature
28. A book recommended by a celebrity you admire
29. A book with LOVE in the title
30. A book featuring an amateur detective
31. A book about a family – Not a Fairy Tale by Shaida Kazie Ali
32. A book author from Asia, Africa, or South America
33. A book with a zodiac sign or astrology term in title
34. A book that includes a wedding – The Witness Wore Red by Rebecca Musser
35. A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter – In The Body Of The World by Eve Ensler
36. A ghost story
37. A book with a two-word title
38. A novel based on a true story
39. A book revolving around a puzzle or game
40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading challenge
41. A “cli-fi” (climate fiction) book
42. A “choose-your-own-adventure” book
43. An “own voices” book
44. Read a book during the season it is set in
45. A LitRPG book
46. A book with no chapters / unusual chapter headings / unconventionally numbered chapters
47. Two books that share the same title
48. Two books that share the same title
49. A book that has inspired a common phrase or idiom
50. A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent

 

by Jenny Lawson

This was fun
A memoir that had me giggling out loud at times and being slightly grossed out at others
You can read that Lawson was/is a blogger – there is a style to her writing which is very blog-like. This makes her hugely readable and very entertaining

A fun romp around her life with all her weird and wonderful family members
Worth taking to the beach or curling up with in a rainy Sunday afternoon