As I slowly read my way through the CBC’s list of 100 Books that Make You Proud to Be Canadian, I chose to borrow The Amazing Absorbing Boy from the library. This novel is a coming of age novel, telling the story of a boy named Samuel who moves to Canada from Trinidad after the death of his mother. He moves in with his estranged father, a dreamer, who had abandoned his wife and child and did not know what to do with a teenaged son.
Samuel learns about Canada during his independent forays around the city. He spends time traveling on the subway and trains. He meets other immigrants in coffee shops. He attends programs at the Toronto Reference Library learning how to live in Canada. He and his father live separate lives in the Regent Park apartment where he is often left alone when his father disappears for days at a time.
As Samuel adjusts to the Canadian climate and lifestyle, he reflects on his past in Trinidad and thinks about his past life and current life in terms of a comic book. He ponders the life of a mysterious friend, The Amazing Absorbing Boy, who was left behind in Trinidad as he works through a series of tasks to become a sponsored immigrant while going to school. He meets and learns from a number of interesting characters that share their own knowledge and experiences about moving to Canada.
It was an interesting story of the overwhelming nature of immigration, with Samuel moving from a warm, slow country and adapting to a cold, busy and bustling city like Toronto. I enjoyed the references to locations including the Toronto Reference Library (where I visited this past Friday for and event), Union Station and even my own city of Brantford where a character had been working. I did find the book a bit slow but it may be that I was struggling to finish it knowing that I have a selection of new books to read following my own trip to Toronto.