Monthly Archives: September 2014

‘Medicine Walk’ by Richard Wagamese

Medicine WalkstarstarstarstarstarAfter reading The Orenda, I promised myself I would read some other First Nations authors and the two I picked were Thomas King and Richard Wagamese. Recently, hearing a CBC The Next Chapter podcast about  Richard Wagamese’s new novel ‘Medicine Walk’,  I decided to start with it because I was so touched by Wagamese’s personal story.

In a candid interview with Shelagh Rogers, Wagamese is very open about the fact that because he is an alcoholic, he became alienated from his sons. Those years are lost and he is trying to find healing in his personal life. Part of how he does this is through his writing. Medicine Walk is a beautifully written and moving story about a father and son. It is as lyrically and respectfully written as Boyden’s epic work, just as powerful, but simpler and gentler.

Franklin accepts his dying father’s last request to take him to the BC interior where he wants to be buried “in the warrior way”.  It sets both of them on a journey of discovery – an encounter with the past and with the nature of their relationship. Franklin is the most self-contained mature sixteen year old I have ever come across in a novel. It was such a pleasure getting to know this remarkable character. Written in sure, clear prose, much of this novel is so real and down to earth, yet so eloquent. A redemptive, masterful story. “It’s all we are in the end. Our stories.”

Wagamese’s earlier novel Indian Horse, winner of the Canada Reads People’s Choice poll in 2013, is now definitely on my to-read list as well.  It’s about residential schools and how one boy finds hope through playing ice hockey.

‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesstarstarstarViolence, deceit, cover-ups, accusations, betrayal, and a lot of little toxic lies….all on the kindergarten playground where parents drop their kids off for school! Small town suspicions, accusations, and grudges get majorly and deliciously out of hand in a small seaside community in Australia.

The story begins at a parent orientation day, where one child bullies another but no one has actually witnessed the incident. One child is identified as the culprit but something seems wrong with the assumption made. From this, a series of events are set in motion that will culminate in several injuries and a death at the school trivia night some months later.

In this unusual whodunit we don’t know who the murderer is yet of course, but we also don’t know who the victim is!  Moriarty writes with tongue in cheek humour about suburbia and  parents behaving badly. She cleverly crafts a story that keeps us guessing right to the end. Aside from being compelling and entertaining, the novel also deals very sensitively with issues around domestic abuse.

Other books of Moriarty’s that I have enjoyed are The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot.

PS I find book cover art so interesting…this one is an exploding lollipop!

‘Happy Birthday, Royal Baby’ by Martha Mumford

Happy Birthday, Royal Baby!starstarstarstarstar

Countries that have royal families tend to be besotted with their monarchy. The British are no exception, and after living in the Royal Borough of Windsor for 4 years now, I also confess to some “royal watching”. I admit to checking the flag on Windsor Castle daily (from my bedroom window), just to see if the Queen is in. “Queen’s in” I’ll quip, on my way to making myself  my morning cuppa…silly woman that I am, it means nothing, but it is sort of nice to know!

Since I was away for Prince George’s first birthday (shame on me), spending the summer in Canada, I was delighted to find this picture book in my house upon my return – a gift left from a house guest. Thanks Evelyn!

It’s a great humorous look at all the fuss families make about a child’s first birthday, when actually the toddler will never remember the event anyway, and in truth will usually ignore all the expensive toys and end up playing with the box! The greatest picture books are just as entertaining for the adult who’s reading them, as for the children who are listening, and this one achieves that, in fact it will likely have the adults chuckling more.

Ada Grey has done a marvellous job of the illustrations: colourful and recognizable sketches of all of the members of the royal family including the Middletons. And there are corgis involved in all sorts of fun activities on every page! I wonder if the parachuting Queen was inspired by the London Olympics?

A fun picture book for Brits and Canadians alike, because even though they may not admit it, Canadian royal fans are just as besotted.

Shhh! Don't Wake the Royal Baby!In case you are interested in royal collections, there was a previous book by Martha Mumford called Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby which coincided a year ago with Prince George’s birth.

Newsflash: Announcement made last night, another royal baby on the way! 🙂