Book Reviews

The Breaks

The Breaks

Julietta Singh’s The Breaks is at once a letter, a memoir, and a work of narration. In addressing her six-year-old daughter, Singh’s storytelling is, for the next generation, “a map of broken things, a recyclable archive that will spur you to fashion other ways of being alive, of living.”

Letters to Amelia

Letters to Amelia

In the respective epistolary novels The Color Purple and The Quintland Sisters, authors Alice Walker and Vancouver native Shelley Wood enlivened a genre that many literary scholars had dismissed as anachronistic. Both works probed the exploitation of girls within their families and in greater society. 

Home of the Floating Lily

Home of the Floating Lily

Silmy Abdullah’s Home of the Floating Lily begins and ends with the idea of ‘home.’ The stories focus on characters wrestling with migration, containment, and forging new identities as ‘foreigners’ on Canadian soil.

Phantompains

Phantompains

Drawing on Filipino horror and mythology, Estacion turns to monsters, ghosts, and beasts to navigate her personal pain and grief. Mirroring the loss of her own reproductive organs, she weaves in supernatural imagery of The White Lady, who weeps over the “dead uterus lying sadly on a / pillow looking very much like / the burnt pork belly at breakfast no one wants to touch.”

Stars Need Counting: Essays on Suicide

Stars Need Counting: Essays on Suicide

In the six-page preface, Principe takes great care to write that her book is not: an apology for suicide, a comprehensive review of suicide, a history of suicide, an argument for or against suicide, judgment, or a response to suicide that is without love.

The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak

The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak

Grace Lau’s debut poetry collection, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak is a love letter to the narrator’s younger self. Throughout the book, learning the language of care is embedded in the literal act of learning a second language as immigrant children. 

Tainna: The Unseen Ones

Tainna: The Unseen Ones

Tainna, pronounced Da-e-nn-a, features five stories that centre Inuk characters living in the Canadian South. Dunning’s tone throughout the book is candid and colloquial. However, since Tainna is a series of short stories, each story uses a slightly different voice, and that’s where we see the elegance in Dunning’s craft as a writer. 

awâsis–kinky and dishevelled

awâsis–kinky and dishevelled

Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer’s sixth book, awâsis – kinky and dishevelled, shimmers and cackles on each page. “awâsis” is the nêhiyawêwin word for “child,” but, as Halfe states in the acknowledgements, the word translates beyond the concept of a child to mean “being lent a spiritual being.” Halfe lends the reader a spiritual being throughout the text: the title figure appears in each of the fifty-three poems. 

Always Brave, Sometimes Kind

Always Brave, Sometimes Kind

Always Brave, Sometimes Kind begins with “All the Children We Don’t Know,” an earnest story about Rhanji, a doctor managing hospital overflow and a staffing crisis in 1995. Told through matter-of-fact prose, Bickell tells readers that workers are “used and abused, underpaid and unseen” instead of having readers infer the physical and emotional impacts that healthcare cutbacks have on characters.

Entering Sappho

Entering Sappho

There’s a meditative quality to Entering Sappho, a centrifugal movement that emerges as Dowling reinterprets and remixes her understanding of both the geographical and the literary Sappho. So proceeds “Soft Memory,” my favourite poem in the book, a sequence quickly identifiable as a rewriting of Sappho 31 (her “Ode on the Beloved”).

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