On this exceptionally warm Thanksgiving Monday morning, as the yellow leaves drift and swirl through the air (which greatly amuses my cats!), I am thinking about what I am thankful for. I am thankful for finding a way to order my own supply of chai tea. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read or listened to with so many people so easily. I am thankful for the opportunity to be on a committee which makes me aware of so many great recently published Canadian titles to read and review. And I am thankful for the Canada Council for the Arts, which gives grants to writers who are working on books - without these grants, and others, what a bleak landscape Canadian literature might be (I mean bleak in selection, not in theme!)
Speaking of Canadian literature, I read a really unique book last week called Birdie. This debut novel by Cree writer Tracey Lindberg focuses on Bernice “Birdie” Meetoos, a young woman who, while working in a cafe bakery in a small town in BC and living above the store, is processing her experiences of sexual abuse by family members while in her childhood and early teens, as well as her time in care, her years on the street in Alberta, and time spent in “the San”. While at the bakery, Bernice is also learning to “shift”, a spiritual/dream state where she loses time, becomes one with the earth, and travels while her body remains still. Although she experienced much of the traumatic events of her earlier life seemingly alone, she had some strong female role models, and these women come to her aid during her time at the cafe, too, to help with her processing and transition. The writing was rather disjointed and often in the stream-of-consciousness style, with words running together and combining (like "thinkfeel"), which reflects Bernice’s dream-like state and her “shifting”, so it was a bit strange at first, but once I was able to get into the flow of the text, it swept me along and was hard to put down. Many of the details of Bernice's life are vague, but much is implied, and when I got to the end of the novel and read the interview with the author (for which I was also thankful), I suspected that the truth was much worse than I imagined during my reading. The writing style, and Bernice’s “shifting”, reminded me of someone in the throes of a dissociative disorder, which I guess is a common state for those who are sexually abused, a way for the abused to deal with these experiences. Anyway, not an easy or fun read, but well worth the effort if you are ready for a thought-provoking book that deals with a difficult subject. (Didn't I mentioned "bleak" at the beginning of this post?!)
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Get outside and enjoy the wonderful day! Happy Thanksgiving!
Bye for now…
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