Birdie is the nickname of Bernice Meetoos, a “big, beautiful Cree woman” from Northern Alberta who has made her way to Gibsons, British Colombia. On the surface her travels have been in pursuit of her childhood crush, the actor Pat John (Jesse from The Beachcombers television series), but her journey goes much deeper.
Not long after her arrival, Bernice “takes to her bed”, not eating or speaking or even moving, but she continues to voyage within herself. Her secrets are slowly revealed throughout the novel as she tries to come to terms with (and sometimes recall pieces of) her painful past. At the core of this book is the relationships between women, and how they come together in times of need, as Bernice’s cousin Skinny Freda, motheraunt Val, and employer Lola (who all have their own secrets) rally around her and try to will her back. This book is particularly relevant in light of calls that led to a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Tracey Lindberg’s first novel is beautifully written, interspersed with fragments of poetry and Cree storytelling tradition. It is not without humour (see: Birdie’s preoccupation with Pat John, as well as her obsession with reruns of the cooking show The Frugal Gourmet) despite sometimes dark subject matter.
Birdie was one of the books selected for CBC’s Canada Reads 2016. Though The Illegal by Lawrence Hill eventually won this “Battle of the Books”, defender Bruce Poon Tip felt so strongly about the importance of Birdie to the Can Lit canon that he is giving 10,000 copies to Canadian high schools.
As well as Canada Reads 2016, Birdie is tagged on our Adult Summer Reading, Brilliant Debut Authors, and Escape the Ordinary lists. Be sure to reserve your copy of Birdie soon, and check out these lists for some other amazing reading recommendations!
Do you know where your sugar is coming from? Most likely everywhere. Sure, it’s in ice cream and cookies, but what scared Eve O. Schaub was the secret world of sugar–hidden in bacon, crackers, salad dressing, pasta sauce, chicken broth, and baby food. Eve challenged her husband and two school-age daughters to join her on a quest to quit sugar for an entire year. Year of No Sugar is what the conversation about “kicking the sugar addiction” looks like for a real American family–a roller coaster of unexpected discoveries and challenges.
I am impressed with this family! Yes, they snacked on fruit regularly and treated themselves to a proper dessert once a month, but they generally stuck to this plan everywhere they went – birthday parties, restaurants, and even Christmas dinner. I can’t imagine the inconvenience! My biggest take-aways:
1. Sugar is in everything! Schaub had me looking through the cupboards at home, and yep, it’s in everything!
2. Sugar is like poison (actually — humans essentially evolved without consuming it, or very little of it, and today our bodies don’t know how to properly break it down).
3. I love sugar! I will certainly try to limit sugar intake from foods that shouldn’t have it in the first place – breads, sauces – but give up dessert? Not interested! That’s the best part of a meal!
Check out Year of No Sugar and I guarantee you will be perfectly inspired to make a few changes. Interested in taking on this challenge? Give these books a read:
As the West and the Islamic Republic of Iran tentatively reach out to one another, Laura Secor’s book, Children of Paradise: the Struggle for the Soul of Iran, is a timely reminder of the birth and development of the Iranian Revolution. In this book Secor traces the philosophical roots of the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, and the subsequent struggle between hardliners, moderates and reformers within the country. Secor’s book is a story of the ever-escalating brutality of the hardline leadership against moderate and reform elements, culminating in the fraudulent presidential election of 2009 and the crackdown on the so-called Green Movement.
This book is hard to read, because you continue to hope that moderate elements will prevail within the country when you know that they won’t. The one thing that I took away from this book is that the Nation of Iran and its people are far greater than any of the unworthies that have led it over the last 60 years.