Different Drummer books in collaboration with East Plains Church, in Burlington, hosted a trio of authors on May 2nd including Michael Kaan, Jennifer Robson and Jamie Tennant. I have been tardy in posting this review but am looking forward to reading The Water Beetles which is the first novel of Michael Kaan, who I first “met” on the Canadian Content Goodreads group.
From Winnipeg, Michael, who works in a veteran’s hospital and was originally scheduled to visit Ontario for a work function. It was cancelled but the publisher sent him to this event which was appreciated by the audience. I had not planned on purchasing any books until I conquered some of my growing “to be read” pile but walked away with a signed copy and am interested to reading another perspective of World War II history.
Michael has a remarkable family history. Although fictional, Water Beetles is based on his father’s memoir and experience as a 9 year old during the war. Michael shared that his dad was the 17th of 18 children, born into a wealthy, family. When Japan attacked China, after the bombing of Pear Harbour, his grandmother kept her family safe by sending them to different parts of rural China . His dad was sent away with a responsible adult – a seventeen year old girl! It is hard to imagine the terror of sending your children off during war, not knowing if they were safe, being unable to communicate and hoping for the best!
The story is told through the eyes of a 12 year old boy alternating with his perspective as a man. The mother split up her family, sending 3 of her children to the country. They travel from village to village and are taken to a concentration camp.
As always, I am curious about the author’s experience planning the book and Micheal revealed he did not have a detailed outline but had a broad idea and knew the ending of the book. He acknowledged that it is important to have a writing habit and that writing the plot was the hardest part.
I have recently enjoyed a number of books based on WW II including The Nightingale (WW II experience in France) and The Translation of Love (set during the post-WW II occupation of Japan) and look forward to learning about the experience in Hong Kong during the war. It is always shocking to read fiction and realize how much history has not been taught in school and to reflect on how lucky we are to be Canadian in peacetime.
It was a nice evening meeting Michael Kaan and I appreciate having a signed copy of his book. Water Beetles is on my summer reading list!