Missing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence

Image result for Missing NimâmâMissing Nimâmâ by Melanie Florence, winner of the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, is a lovely picture book for anyone’s collection. However, it is especially relevant for teachers looking for First Nations materials for the new BC Ministry of Education requirements, or for anyone who has read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and wants to dig deeper into the stories of Canada’s First Nations. It introduces the topic of Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in a format that is accessible to young children.

The story of a young girl growing up is told in the voices of the girl and her missing mother. The lovely, wistful illustrations reflect the emotions of the daughter who is missing her mother, and the mother who can no longer raise her daughter.  The sweet and touching relationship between the girl and the grandmother who raises her prevents the story from becoming too overwhelmingly sad. An interesting addition to the text is a Cree glossary of words which are both included in the text and hidden in the illustrations. More information and statistics on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada are included at the end of the book for those who want to go a bit deeper. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Canada’s relationship to its indigenous people. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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Reeva: A Mother’s Story by June Steenkamp

In 2012, during the London Olympics, the Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius inspired the world by becoming the first para-athlete to compete in both Paralympic and Olympic Games as a sprinter. Several months later he made the news headlines again, this time for fatally shooting his model girlfriend of three months, Reeva Steemkamp, in the middle of the night in his posh Pretoria villa.

Reeva’s mother, June Steenkamp, wrote this fascinating memoir describing the long months after she received the phone call that her beautiful, youngest daughter had been killed. In this painfully honest and unflinching account of Reeva’s life, she talks about Reeva’s wonderful childhood and what really went on in her mind as she sat in the packed Pretoria court room day after day and how she is coping in the aftermath of the verdict. Reeva is an amazing and very well written true insider’s account of this tragic story. (Submitted by Monika).

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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book was written as a letter from a father to his 15-year-old son about what it means to have a black body and be a black boy/man in America. It was awesome with great writing. I connected to this in a couple of big ways: I am the same age bracket as the author and his language around “the Dream” really hit home for me….I loved it! (Submitted by JF).

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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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A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the aftermath of tragedy by Sue Klebold

Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two shooters at Columbine High School in 1999 who killed 13 people before ending their own lives, a tragedy that saddened and galvanized the nation. She has spent the last 15 years excavating every detail of her family life, and trying to understand the crucial intersection between mental health problems and violence. Instead of becoming paralyzed by her grief and remorse, she has become a passionate and effective agent working tirelessly to advance mental health awareness and intervention.” ~ Penguin Random House

Whew, I’m glad I’ve finished this book, though it has stayed with me for days, just as the Columbine tragedy did. Sue Klebold is a very brave woman who has salvaged what could have been a wasted life spent in despair and hopelessness. She has spent the years since the horror of April 1999 trying to deal with PTSD, while struggling through life with her remaining son and husband. She has devoted herself to understanding and promoting the necessity for researching brain health, and, without excusing him, tried to understand what happened to her son. (Submitted by SB).

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Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates

In Little Bird of Heaven, American author Joyce Carol Oates returns to upstate New York and the mythical town of Sparta, the setting of her previous novels We Were the Mulvaneys and The Gravedigger’s Daughter.

In this 2009 novel—a true emotional battlefield—a young mother is brutally murdered and the police focus on two suspects, her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her lover, Eddy Diehl, creating an escalating tension between the Krullers’ son, Aaron, and Eddy’s daughter, Krista. Both kids grow up obsessed and infatuated with each other, and it is through their voices that we get to see the life of Sparta in all its darkness and mystery.

This is a brilliant and captivating tale in which violence, betrayal, despair and sexuality get intertwined to a point where everything comes crashing down. Oates’ lyricism is at its best. (Submitted by Eva.)

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

1829 – Iceland. Angus Magnusson is the last female publicly executed in the country. She was found guilty as an accomplice in the murder of two men.

But what part of a murder is valid for criminal punishment if the act was not done with malicious intent?

This gripping, well researched and detailed historical fiction provokes its readers to re-examine assumptions. It sheds some light in the bleak darkness surrounding her story. Haunting. This is Hannah Kent’s debut novel. (Submitted by Rei).

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