Black Women Who Dared by Naomi M. Moyer

blackwomen This picture book is for young and old alike: it shines a light on forgotten, local heroes in our midst. Like Rosa Pryor, who in 1919, became the first black woman to own a business in Vancouver. This title features Rosa and other strong women who dared to demand better – better working conditions, access to education and health care. Women who dared to make learning a priority by creating an “hour-a-day” study club which allowed women to make themselves the priority for at least one hour each day. The author of this book, Naomi M. Moyer, has done a great job of compiling a collection of notable women and sharing their amazing feats of bravery, tenacity, and creativity. (Submitted by Andrea)

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Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto

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Sakamoto’s account of his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother is compelling reading. Both experienced the effects of World War 2 – his grandfather in a Japanese POW camp and his grandmother the hardships of BC’s forced relocation of its Japanese residents and citizens. We get a detailed look at their upbringing and lives, giving us tremendous insight into the times and character of these people, which is thoroughly engaging.

The book changes after the first half when the author begins his own story, particularly when he focuses on his mother’s journey into alcoholism and poverty, but it still leaves a deep impression on the reader. Instead of dealing with the theme ‘forgiveness’ between two people, in fact two families, with powerful reasons to hate each other, the subject is briefly glossed over. You’re left to assume they nobly put the past behind them when their children marry but are barely mentioned in the second half. Sakamoto is definitely not a great writer, some of his historical facts are incorrect, and the book feels disjointed, but I still recommend it as worth reading. It won the CBC’s Canada Reads in 2018 which says more for its champion, Jeanne Beker, than the book itself, but again, its content holds a strong message for us all. (Submitted by Pippa)

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Annabel by Kathleen Winter

annabelThis book was hauntingly beautiful. It tells the story of a child, born in a remote Labradorean town in 1968, who is not quite male and not quite female. Winter’s storytelling is luminous and poignant as we grow up alongside Wayne (Annabel) in the cold, Canadian climate, privy to one family’s secrets. I’m still reeling from this story and it’s been years since I read it–time for a re-read! (Submitted by Meghan)

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Midnight Light: A Personal Journey to the North by Dave Bidini

midnight lightDave Bidini’s, Midnight Light, is a fun, offbeat, journey through Yellowknife and the surrounding area. Bidini had been at a bit of a cross roads in his writing career, looking for the topic for his next book while watching his newspaper work shrink as the industry as a whole struggled. In the midst of this, he took a short term gig with the Yellowknifer, Yellow Knife’s main paper. The resulting book is part travelogue, part ode to the newspaper industry, and part a series of vignettes featuring a cast of characters. The main through line for the book is formed by John McFadden, a Yellowknifer reporter who made national news after developing a difficult relationship with the local RCMP. This culminated in a trial for obstruction of justice. Midnight Light is a great read for fans of Canadiana, travel writing, and left me plotting a route north to see Yellowknife for myself. (Submitted by Shawn)

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The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

homeforunwantedgirlsI just finished reading The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman for my book club and it was a real page-turner. It’s a fictitious novel based on actual events that occurred in the early 1950’s in Quebec. At the time, many babies born out of wedlock were handed over to orphanages run by Catholic nuns. The province’s Premier of the time, Duplessis signed an order-in-council to turn orphanages into hospitals, thus allowing them to collect federal subsidies. As a result, many of the children in the orphanages were told that they were now mentally deficient, often kept drugged, and made to provide labour in support of the institutions. The children were not schooled, nor were they made available for adoption.

This story follows a 15 year old who finds herself pregnant as well as the story of the child she gives up to one of these orphanages turned hospitals. Mother and daughter never lose hope of reuniting while facing many challenges in their respective lives.

The novel was very well written and I believe it depicted the issues surrounding the times accurately. While it was sometimes difficult to read, it was also eye-opening and engaging. One of the few novels where I’ve shed tears while reading. I highly recommend it. (Submitted by Seline)

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The Colonial Problem: An Indigenous Perspective on Crime and Injustice in Canada by Lisa Monchalin

colonial-problemI dare say this single book gave me more information and knowledge about Canadian Indigenous People than half a dozen of history textbooks that I came across while in high school, college, and university – combined. Technically, this book is a textbook. But, in reality, it reads so well and it is so interesting, that I, personally, don’t view it as a dry academic material. I purely enjoyed it. It enriched my knowledge and opened up my eyes to many things I often overlooked. Also, the author does an excellent job inviting a reader to be included in the conversation and this inclusion creates a special bond that enables you to better understand the culture and people you are reading about. By the way, Lisa Monchalin is an international speaker and advocate who brings light to various Indigenous matters that were and, sometimes still are, misunderstood or misrepresented. Doctor Monchalin is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to hold a PhD degree in Criminology. (Submitted by Mariya)

Would you like to meet Lisa Monchalin in person and hear her speak about the book she wrote? Well, you are in luck! You get a chance to do so on Wednesday, September 26, 2018; 6:30 pm-8:30 pm at the Guildford Library in Surrey, BC. Event is FREE; registration is required. Call 604-598-7366 to register.

I know I am Precious and Sacred by Debora Abood

preciousI came upon this book by accident, while searching for something else. But, as you all probably know, many of the best things in life come as a surprise and turn out to be completely different from what we were initially looking for. When I saw this picture book, the title got hold of my attention and I started reading it. Inside, there is a powerful voice that is telling a child (or you, as a reader) as to why everyone is special and precious. The many reasons why every child and every being is unique and valuable are shared through a strong and flowing verse. This beautiful poetic language is accompanied by gorgeous, photography. The combination of the two gives this book a breath and a heart beat (the latter one is like a steady beat of a mini drum). Highly recommend this First Nations picture book to anyone who wants to empower a child (or anyone else!). The book is all about self-confidence, respect for others, and appreciation of life. (Submitted by Mariya)

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