Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

mudbound

Mudbound begins with two brothers, Henry and Jamie, racing to dig their father's grave before the rain washes out their attempts, but only one of them has a heavy heart. Going back to the beginning of this story, the narration is passed between two families, including Henry's unhappy wife Laura; and a black family of sharecroppers whose son, Ronsel, has just returned from fighting in WWII on a continent that let him see himself as an equal to the white soldiers. Ronsel and Jamie, who was a pilot during the war, strike up a friendship that blooms out of their shared horrors, an unwelcome sight in their small Southern town. Entrenched in prejudice and misery, it seems unlikely that anyone will find peace with each other or with themselves... Continue reading

 

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat begins with our narrator, Grace, headed into court, on trial for committing a crime aboard a lifeboat after her ocean liner sinks on the way to America after the outbreak of WWI. With 39 people in a lifeboat designed for 32, only the most determined - and perhaps the most morally flexible, which may or not include Grace - will survive 20 days at sea. Continue reading

 

Money Rules by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

In 261 'money rules,' Vaz-Oxlade guides the reader through some key financial topics: credit, saving, family, shelter, finding balance, cash management, investing, reality bites, taxes, goals, insurance, and estates. The rules are designed to help people achieve financial goals (as well as narrow in on what the actual goals should be) and to protect themselves, their families - and the money they worked hard to get. The book is targeted at Canadians and our financial rules and regulations, but the principles of many of the rules still apply to almost anyone. Continue reading

 

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

In Far From The Tree, Solomon explores how parents raise children who are exceptional and substantially different from themselves. He looks at children who are mentally and physically disabled, deaf, dwarfs, prodigies, transgender, born of rape, and those who grow up to be criminals. He looks at the bonds they must struggle to create, the battles they wage for them to get help, and much more rarely, what happens when they must face up to being unable to provide the care that is needed. Solomon also explores an interesting angle - what is a 'problem' that should be cured if at all possible, and what is simply an identity that happens to be different from the norm? Continue reading

 

Pretty: Stories by Greg Kearney

In this collection of eleven short stories, Kearney unleashes a diverse cast of unforgettable characters. One story features a Christian housewife who rebels against the hard life she has with a rigid husband and four disabled children by seeking out a lover. A gay couple invite over their mothers, one of whom is fresh out of jail, and reveal a gaping difference between them. A blog, read backwards, exposes a life complicated by addictions, cancer, and a failure in social understandings. Continue reading

 

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

In rehab for his devastating alcoholism, Saul Indian Horse is encouraged to share his story in order to help his recovery and healing. He begins with the story of his childhood, living at one with the land before being snatched up and torn away from his family to be sent to a residential school. Separated from his family, language, and his way of life, Saul falls in love with the game of hockey as a way of transcending the school's horribly cruel conditions. As his talents grow and thrust him into white society, Saul will learn the price of doing what he loves in a world that doesn't seem to want him there. Continue reading

 

February by Lisa Moore

After a storm takes down an oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982, all 84 men aboard are declared dead, including Helen's husband, leaving the young widow alone to raise their children. In 2008, a now 56-year-old Helen is struggling with loneliness and is still battling her distant oldest child, John, who has called from the other side of the world to tell his mother he has gotten a virtual stranger pregnant. In shifting times and viewpoints, the family tries to strike a balance between holding on to the past and accepting the change that will allow them to have a future. Continue reading

 

Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan

Two Solitudes follows the lives of the Québécois Tallard family between 1917 and 1939: Athanase, a rigid intellectual who considers himself a model French-Canadian citizen; his young second wife Kathleen, out of place in a small town that doesn't take kindly to strangers or to the English; Athanase's older son, Marius, who rages and blames the English-Canadians (including his stepmother) for all of his problems; and young Paul, who is brought up with both French-Canadian and English-Canadian ideologies, gliding between both worlds but perhaps comfortable in neither. On top of the issue of French-Canadian and English-Canadian cultures, it is a turbulent time in history: wars, clashing religious views, and modernization within business and society all collude to create a difficult life to navigate as this divided family struggles to make peace with each other and with their identities. Continue reading

 

Away by Jane Urquhart

In 1842 Ireland, a young woman named Mary falls under the spell of a beautiful sailor who washes ashore after a shipwreck, but when they're discovered together on the shore in the morning, he is dead and she is said to be 'away' - her spirit replaced with something not entirely of this world. The story of Mary's descendants is remembered by her great-granddaughter when she is an old woman - the potato famine that drove her family to come to Canada, the wilderness they faced largely alone, their travels to a larger town, a desperate race to a flooded Montreal. Away is both a family saga and an immigrant story, the tale of a family arriving in Canada and their struggle to hold on to part of their Irish identity. Continue reading