Showing posts with label Canadian Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canadian Fiction. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz



Publisher: House of Anansi Press
Released: 2013
Pages: 456
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

Sisters, Beena and Sadhana grew up in a loving home with parents with different cultural backgrounds. Their mother was born in North America and traveled the world, she was very much a free spirit, their father came from a conservative family in India , and they eventually settled in Montreal. Their father owned and operated a bagel shop, while their Uncle managed the day to day tasks. When their father suddenly passes away, the three of them are left to grieve and learn to cope. A few short years later, their mother tragically passes away and the teenage girls are suddenly orphaned and left under the guardianship of their strict, single Uncle.  The family never approved of their mother and Beena and Sadhana had no other relatives they knew. Tragedy and grief seemed to always be around the corner. Both girls began to lead very different paths, Beena unexpectedly becomes pregnant at sixteen and Sadhana develops anorexia.


Review:

Bone and Bread was a great read. Essentially this is a book about relationships, and how life continually forces changes upon individuals. Beena and Sadhana are barely two years apart, they’ve always been close and dealt with tragedy differently. Bone and Bread opens with the death of Sadhana, while Beena tries to come to grips with her death, rehashing their hardships endured together. Beena, the older sister always felt protective of her sister but at the same time, she needed to care for her son and live her own life.  Sadhana’s anorexia really takes a toll on their relationship and Beena doesn’t know how much she can trust her sister or how long she can protect her. Sadhana struggles with needing her own space, creating her own life and needing to help her sister.

I really grew to love both girl’s and understand their hardships. Once they lost both their parents, their foundation crumbled. They barely knew their Uncle, never had a real relationship with him and being placed under his guardianship caused them to resent him. Coming from a conservative family, having no wife, readers can really see the struggles he faces. Everyone is in a predicament and trying to survive.

As a fellow Montrealer, the atmosphere of this novel really brings it to life. Nawaz writes about a Montreal I know, and live in. This has not always been the case when I’ve read other books that are set in Montreal. I love the cover of this one, I think it captures the story well. I really don't feel like I'm giving this book justice in my review, but I highly recommend this book, especially for those who have a sister. I believe the story would be even more powerful. Great for book clubs! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: February by Lisa Moore



Publisher: House of Anansi
Released: 2011
Pages: 321
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

In 1982 Helen O’Mara lost her husband, when the oil rig he was working on sank off the coast of New Foundland. All eighty-four men aboard were declared dead. Helen was left to care for her young children alone, pregnant with a baby who would never know his or her father. Helen struggles with money and loneliness. Helen is now fifty-eight, and still living with the after effects of her husband’s death. Her oldest son John has called her from the other side of the world and tells his mother that he’s going to be a father. The girl was a one night stand, and he doesn’t know much about her.

Review:

February shifts time and viewpoints to give the readers a full glimpse of the past and present issues. Helen is a likable character, she’s struggled through tough times, she’s raised her children and now she still wants to be there for them, during their difficult times. When she reminisces about the night her husband passes, reader’s hearts will break. Moore doesn’t spare readers the emotions. Helen has fought to deal with her grief and keep her life in control. Her son, John has stayed away from relationships and kept himself free to do as he pleases. When he discovers that he will be a father, he struggles to come to terms with his new life. He’s determined to help the mother has much as he can, but he doesn’t have her phone number, and he was not supportive when she first broke the news to him.

I really enjoyed February, and it has won the Canada Reads 2013 book battle. My only issue with the book was the lack of dialogue. The story is not told in a linear way, Moore gives readers snipes of life events. If you’re looking for a good Canadian book to read, this one is worth the time. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler



Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: 2012
Pages: 371
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Lily Azerov has fled Eastern Europe after the turmoil of the Second World War. When Lily arrives in Montreal to meet her betrothed, Sol Kramer she wants to escape her old life. Unfortunately, when Sol meets Lily he immediately decides that he won’t marry her. His brother, Nathan decides that he will marry her. Lily accepts, and their wedding is arranged. During their reception, a cousin of Lily’s decides that she is not who she says she is. This Lily stole her cousin’s identity, and she wants to know what happened to the real Lily. The woman claiming to be Lily doesn’t know what to do. She tries to make a life for herself, but she ends up abandoning her infant and leaving behind a journal and a rare diamond.

Review:

The Imposter Bride focuses on Lily’s daughter Ruth. Ruth is determined to find out what happened to her mother, what made her run off when she was only a few months old. If Lily isn’t who she says she is, Ruth wants to find out who her mother is and where can she find her. Apart from a few rocks that were mysteriously mailed, Ruth hasn’t had any contact with her mother. Her father has been great, and her aunt and uncle have really stepped in to help. When she begins asking questions, they don’t really know what to tell her.

The Imposter Bride is an unforgettable story. The writing is detailed and compelling. Richler delivers a rich novel filled with great characters, secrets and the desire to uncover the truth. Ruth is a prime example of a confused child, trying to put the pieces together, needing to figure out where she came from. She doesn’t seem to blame her mother; she just wants to figure out why. What happened to cause her mother to run away and abandon her? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Everything was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran



Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy
Released: 2012
Rating: 4/5



Synopsis:

Everything was Good-bye introduces Meena, a young Punjabi girl living in British Columbia struggling to fit in with her peer’s and fight her strict community. Meena will never experience the freedom of her peer’s unless she walks away from the family, and break her mother’s heart. She’s seen this first-hand when one of her older sisters is expelled from the family. As much as Meena would love to lead her own life and make her own decisions, she can’t put her mother through the torture and embarrassment of another daughter gone astray. Meena is caught in the traditions of her close-knit Punjabi community. As Meena tries to asset her independence, she discovers that there are eyes and ears everywhere, and they never hesitate to report back to her mother. Eventually, Meena gives up and agrees to a traditional marriage. Everyone is jealous of her perfect match, but Meena still wonders about the high school boy who stole her heart.



Review:

The first section of the novel presents a young, frustrated and rebellious teenage Meena. She’s a second generation immigrant who wants freedom and independence. She wants to choose her own discipline, but her mother frowns upon her creative writing skills, her daughter should be a doctor or lawyer and nothing less. Meena is essentially torn between two cultures, desperate to make her own decisions. Readers learn that all of Meena’s sisters are married or about to be married according to the traditions, expect one. Her favorite sister, Harj has been gone for some time and no one has heard from her. As Meena finally decides to live according to the customs, her life enters a new difficult phase. The husband can do no wrong, and no matter what- her mother will always encourage her to return to her rightful place as a wife.

I really enjoyed Everything was Good-bye. It surpassed my expectations in many ways. Each section of the novel was engaging and emotional. Meena not only represents the second generation immigrant; she’s represents anyone who has fought against their parent’s wishes, dealt with stereotypes or lived in a strict tight-knit community. Basran did an incredible job describing Meena’s emotions, and thoughts. Readers really get a sense of who she is and where she is coming from. The only issue I had with the novel was the ending felt a little rushed. This one is recommended for those who are curious about immigration, and how families try to retain much of their culture.