Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

medicine walk

A beautifully, sparely written novel about a young man and his estranged father, who find themselves on a final walk together. Franklin Starlight, an Ojibway teenager, knows next to nothing about his family, or his past. Along comes (returns) Eldon, his alcoholic absentee father, who takes Franklin on a last “medicine walk” to try and reconnect and finally share Frank’s history.

This was so beautiful. There are no saccharine, overtly emotional scenes. Richard Wagamese writes with careful expertise, and we share so much with these two characters without having too much unneccesary actual dialogue. Nature plays a great and important role, calming and vast, giving the Starlight men a world to disappear into.

This is a story about making mistakes, finding forgiveness, and moving on. There are no pleading excuses from Eldon, no righteous speeches from Frank. The themes of loyalty, family, love, and finding peace within yourself are all here, and explored beautifully. I look forward to reading more of Wagamese’s titles. (Submitted by Veronica)

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The Golden Spruce: a true story of myth, madness, and greed by John Vaillant

Image result for golden spruceThis book was excellently written – it made a topic that I wasn’t too sure was all that interesting into a fascinating and page-turning true tale. Highly recommended. (Submitted by JF).

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Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz

Reading books set in Montreal always fill me with nostalgia, doubly so for the deep sensory memories evoked by the fact the sisters of this novel grow up over their father’s bagel shop in Mile End. Beena and Sadhana are closely linked together by tragedy as well as family bonds. In the wake of her sister’s untimely death, Beena must grapple with their past. Thoroughly engaging, and not just because of the thought of bagels. A Canada Reads 2016 pick. (Submitted by Meghan W).

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The Fish Eyes Trilogy by Anita Majumdar

Anita Majumdar set her interlocking trilogy of plays in the town of Port Moody, BC. Her three female high school aged protagonists grapple with issues of race, appropriation, and sexual politics through Indian dance. Through Maria Ngyuen’s illustrations the play’s characters come vividly to life in the mind of the reader, while the play staging directions tantalizingly indicate a robust physicality that would be present in the performance.  (Submitted by Meghan W.)

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The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

The biting commentary on racial politics in The Illegal speaks to our present woes, but the engaging characters of Keita Ali, elite marathoner and refugee; Viola Hill, wheelchair bound reporter; Ivernia Beech, subversive library volunteer; and John Falconer, boy genius make the ride worthwhile. This book was the Canada Reads 2016 winner.(Submitted by Meghan W.)

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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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Louis Riel by Chester Brown

Montreal author and illustrator Chester Brown presents the story of Canadian icon Louis Riel in this unique and gripping comic. This biography illustrates the struggles faced by the Metis people of the prairies, leading to two resistance movements against the Canadian government to form the province of Manitoba.  Brown has created an accessible and entertaining way to learn about an important part of Canadian history while also creating an exciting illustrated story that can appeal to any reader.  (Submitted by CB)

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