Have I mentioned my love of Kyo Maclear before? Yes? Well I’m going to say it again anyway.
As I was speeding through our collection of Maclear’s picture books – out of sheer enthusiasm rather than a desire to be done with all of them – hoping there would be no end in sight, I realized (as I noted previously) that I needn’t have limited my search to picture books at all: Maclear writes for adults too!* Better yet, we have them in our collection!
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, considering picture books are a whole ‘nother beast as compared to adult novels, but I think Maclear has convinced me to continue reading her other novels.
Despite the constant jumping between past and present in Stray Love, Maclear does a wonderful job making it all come together as a coherent story: the reader is not left for a moment disconnected or at a loss as to where exactly in time we are in the story, whether it be with Marcel’s telling of his history with Oliver or the present day with Iris. While Marcel & Oliver are not, in my opinion, discernibly British, and I’m a bit confused as to why they were made to be British because it doesn’t play that large a part in the plot in the sense that they could well have been North American without much detriment to the novel as a whole, the entire novel works. For the time being, I’ve put The Letter Opener on hold and eagerly await its arrival.
I just saw the very first ballet of my entire life* this weekend, and I am so incredibly excited about the rest of the performances in the National Ballet of Canada’s 2016/2017 season! Cinderella kicked off the season, and while I was sitting quite high up in the fifth ring and couldn’t see in as much detail as I would have liked – especially the costumes! – it was quite an exciting night nonetheless. I had no idea what to expect, apart from popular (read: stereotypical) notions of what ballet performances might consist of (stiff tutus? classic ethereal elegance?) and was very pleasantly surprised: various elements of the story were reinterpreted and the stepsisters fared very well as comic relief, there were zero stiff tutus in sight, in addition to which the transformation scene was quite well done, the forest coming to life in the process of conjuring & presenting to Cinderella the transformative garbs. Part of me does wish they went through the entire change onstage – as it was, a scarf/wrap took the place of the dress, changing up her plain dress for that scene only, and she arrived at the ball in a completely different dress – but I suspect it would have been rather difficult to orchestrate. Continue reading
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!