Tag Archives: Abuse

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

menagerieAh, the power of a page-turner. I hesitate to classify Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie as one particular genre because there are elements of urban fantasy, thriller, mystery, and contemporary fiction throughout. Vincent has created an alternate reality of sorts, where fantastical creatures (everything from the phoenix to human hybrid-esque mermaids, centaurs, etc.) live among us. Well, that’s not quite accurate. They don’t live among us. They have no rights at all. They are caged and abused, either for spectacle or research.

Enter Delilah, who is a smart young woman (too smart for her small hometown in Oklahoma) and is already opposed to the treatment of “cryptids.” While on a birthday trip to a traveling circus, Delilah is revealed to be more than what she seems – perhaps a cryptid herself. She quickly realizes just what this means as she is stripped of her every right and sold into the menagerie. Of course, now being on the other side of the bars means she must befriend her fellow cryptids while gaining a more thorough understanding of their lives. She also has to decide whether or not to trust the mysterious staff member Gallagher, who has his own story.

Vincent has created a world that feels absolutely real and there is a real battle of ethics here. I liked Delilah and I was desperate to know what happened next. Other reviewers have noted that the ending felt rushed, which I agree with, but it was such a thrilling read that it almost doesn’t matter. Serious page-turner alert! (Submitted by Veronica)

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Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Image result for exit pursued by a bear book coverTalk about tough subjects for a teen novel: rape/date rape, drugs, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. This may not be gritty enough for some readers but you don’t necessarily need gritty to talk about serious issues.

While attending a camp in Northern Ontario, Hermione Winters was drugged and raped. The repercussions range from testing the strength of families and friendships, romantic relationships – past, present and future – to the school and small town rumours that can mark and make or break the spirit of a victim.

The author admits she was angry when she first started writing this book and that it wasn’t very cohesive but she stuck with it, creating a novel I wasn’t sure I wanted to read but I’m glad I did. It makes you realize the ‘what ifs’ of your life and the decisions that you’ve made that have put you on the path you are on – at the moment. (Submitted by RZ).

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The Queen of Water by Laura Resau

This is the story of Maria Virginia, who was born to a very poor farming family in a tiny Ecuadorian village. While she was still a child (she doesn’t know her real age, but estimates she was around 7), she was “sold” to a family of a dentist and a university professor to care for their baby while they were at work. The family doesn’t pay her, allow her to watch TV or to eat from their plates and all the mother tells her is how stupid, useless and unwanted Virginia is. The father is very kind to her, calling her his daughter, and eventually grows way too fond of her, so Virginia, now in her teen years, sees no other option than to escape and return to her family’s dirty house (we’re talking fleas here and such). However, during her many years with the doctor’s family, Virginia secretly learned to read and studied hard to catch up. So even though she never went to school, she was able to graduate shortly after she was given the chance and entered one of the most prestigious universities, disguising the fact that she is a longa (a native Indian). The truth come out when she enters a contest and becomes The Queen of the Water. (Submitted by Monika).

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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Ms Okorafor is an African American author, the daughter of two Nigerian immigrants. I can’t remember how this book came on my radar but I’m glad it did. It’s catalogued as Science Fiction but the first half really doesn’t seem to fit that category–later on ‘magical’ things are at work but it dovetails so well into the story it doesn’t ‘read’ as Sci Fi.

It was a hard read in that it dealt with topics of racism, genocide, genital mutilation, the use of rape as a weapon of war, the societal views of children that are a result of these rapes – and the fact that these children are a result  of two races mixing . Climate change is a small part of the story (there are more deserts in this future earth) and the problems technology has brought society is also discussed.

The book presents us with a heroine, Onyesonwu (which means Who Fears Death), who has struggles to overcome as a child of a rape victim. A ‘Quest’ must be completed–a chance to right wrongs and vengeance taken.

Onyesonwu is a strong, emotional, conflicted character but you root for her every step of the way. (Submitted by RZ).

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Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese is a beautiful, captivating story of a broken Ojibway man, Saul Indian Horse. He faces the atrocities he endured at residential school as well as the racism and abuse he experienced as he tried to build a life in Northern Ontario in the 1960s. The story starts as Saul has entered an alcohol treatment centre as a grown man and is forced to face his past in order to move forward.

The portrayal of the sexual, cultural and physical abuse the Canadian residential school system inflicted on Saul is hard to read but with it comes understanding. Through the heartbreaking story, starting with Saul’s early life with his family living a traditional life in the Northern Ontario bush until being captured and taken to residential school, Saul perseveres and finds hope when he is introduced to hockey and discovers his passion and exceptional talent.

This 2013 Canada Reads nominee story is an important story about courage and healing and I would highly recommend this book to anyone from teens onward. (Submitted by Michelle).

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Threaten to Undo Us by Rose Seiler Scott

In Threaten to Undo Us, Surrey-based author Rose Seiler Scott delivers a powerful historical novel about one family’s will to survive and stay together during the tumultuous second World War. Liesel is German, but she was born and raised in Poland. Her husband, Ernst, is drafted into Hitler’s army despite his misgivings, and Liesel is left to support her ailing mother and four young children. As Stalin’s Army succeeds, Liesel finds herself forced from the only home she has ever known on the run from Poland. I really enjoyed this book–it offers a perspective of World War 2 that I haven’t read about yet. The violence and atrocities faced during the war are depicted, but not gratuitously, and it is ultimately a hopeful story of love, faith, and the will to live. (Submitted by MS).

Meet Rose at Authors Among Us: Remembering the Past in Poetry and Prose at Guildford Library on Wed, Nov 4 at 6:30pm. Call 604-598-7374 to save your spot.

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What Dark Passages by Bryan Clegg

New Westminster author Bryan Clegg tells the story of four Vancouverites facing darkness in their lives. Orphaned as a child and isolated from his other family members, Alex faces thoughts of suicide and finds no joy in his job at a call centre. Melissa struggles to heal after a vicious sexual attack leaves her with physical and emotional wounds. Richard is a paramedic newly returned to work after a mistake he made resulted in the death of a young girl. Joel is trying to overcome an abusive childhood and drug addiction through the help of his wife and daughter.  Eventually, the stories of these four strangers intertwine in surprising ways. Clegg manages to create a very readable narrative while conveying heavy themes. I really enjoyed reading this book. (Submitted by Meghan).

Meet Bryan at Authors Among Us-The Dark Side: The Craft of Writing about Death, Demons, and Despair at Guildford Library on Wed, Oct 7 from 6:30-8:30pm. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot.

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