It is no secret that I am excited for the Canada Reads debates which start tomorrow! I saved The Break for last since it was the book that I was most interested in reading. It truly is the book that I think all Canadians should read. It delves into important issues that might be difficult but are important for us as Canadians, as individuals, as parents, as siblings, as grandparents, as humans to think about and to do what we can to support others and understand the impact of words, of actions and of racism that still exists.
I finally started the book yesterday and read every chance I had during this busy weekend. At first, I kept having to refer back to the family tree to keep the characters straight but loved the relationships and strength of the women which ran through the years and generations.
The story begins after Stella, a young Metis woman calls 911. She was up with her baby and witnessed a brutal crime in the break, a strip of land that supported the power towers. She was shocked, frozen and unable to go out and do something to save the girl. She was catapulted back to her own family when her toddler woke up and her baby was sobbing. By the time the police arrived, only blood stains remained and the victim was gone. The seasoned officer was skeptical of her story but something rang true for the fresh, new recruit who took her complaint seriously.
The book is broken down into 4 parts, each with one chapter from the perspective of a different character. These characters shares more detail about the crime and how their own history impacts the current situation. Each character has their own challenges and dealt with the trauma differently as the details slowly reveal the truth and the lives leading up to the decisions of that fateful night.
This is the one story that Canadian’s need to read! it is not only artfully written but it touches on so many important issues – sexual violence, violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, possible postpartum depression, racism, spousal abuse, child abuse – and yet balances the story with strength, resilience, love, kindness and caring. It is a story of strong women looking after and loving each other in good times and through hardship.
I especially loved the character of the kind, calm, loving Kookoo (grandmother who had experienced hardship, sadness and loss but had kept her family together).
It is a book that makes you think, makes you sad and makes you ponder the strong women in your own life. It is a book that is difficult to put down once you delve into the storylines and one that makes me hope for a sequel to see how life goes on for Emily and Ziggy after the abuse, for Paul and Lou as their children grow up, for Cheryl and Rita as they give up drinking and for Stella and her family as they all live without their beloved Kookoo.
What a great story for a first novel. I look forward to what Katherena Vermette will write next and hope to see her book win when I attend the final debate in Toronto!!!