These three books took me from rural Ontario to Trinidad to the moon!
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
Inspired by the traditional story of the Rogarou–“a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Metis communities”–Dimaline has written a book unlike any other I’ve read.
At night, he roamed the roads that connected Arcand to the larger town across the Bay where native people were still unwelcome two centuries on. His name was spoken in low tones saved for swear words and prayer. He was a threat from a hundred stories told by those old enough to remember the tales.
Victor has been missing for almost a year – he walked out after a fight with Joan and she hasn’t seen him since. Joan has searched and searched, has been missing days and weeks of work, and has been drinking way too much. (“… inside the dark of her thin body, her heart was beating against bone like a wing trying to find the sky. It would be a small mercy to grant its release.“) Just when she finds herself at the end of her rope–and in a Walmart parking lot–she sees him. Except that he’s the Reverend Eugene Wolff, on a “mission to bring his people to Jesus.” She’s sure it is Victor. So, what’s going on, and what can Joan do to bring him home?
Old medicine has a way of being remembered, of haunting the land where it was laid. People are forgetful. Medicine is not.
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
I was inspired to read this when I saw that it was one of Marcie’s favourite books last year. The characters are what make the book – their individual stories, as well as the “unconventional” family they form.
Betty: When we first meet Betty, she is fiercely trying to protect her young son from his abusive father. So, when the next time we meet Betty’s husband is no longer around, I cheered. Safe from her husband, but financially unstable, Betty lets out one of her rooms to Mr. Chetan – a risk because he is a man – but it turns out to be one of the best decisions she’s made. Soon, Betty, Mr. Chetan, and Solo have formed a loving–if unconventional–family unit.
Mr. Chetan: Mr. Chetan is sweet and gentle, wounded and conflicted. On his own since his family learned he was gay, he now wishes he could be more for Miss Betty. And for Solo, who he loves as a son. In the end, he has his own life to figure out in a country that despises men like him.
Solo: After learning the truth about what happened to his father when he was too little to remember, Solo leaves Trinidad for New York where his Uncle and cousins live. They take him in like he’s their own, but he can’t shake the anger. As it grows, he shoves it down.
All three characters will pull and twist at your heart strings as you storm through the book, hoping to find some peace for them all by the end. Each of them flawed yet so full of love that they’re practically bursting at the seams. This book made me want to reach out to my friends.
A couple of good lines:
You know you want to see the man. Do it while your teeth in your mouth and not in a glass by the sink.
If you had to bounce up your ex after all this time I find God should arrange it to be in a crowded supermarket on a Saturday morning. He and the wife should be vex with one another and the child throwing a tantrum on the floor.
Sea of Tanquility by Emily St. John Mandel
If you enjoy some dystopia with a smattering of time travel and a little quantum theory beyond your understanding, you are going to love this book. With the inclusion of familiar characters from previous books as well as the development of new ones, Mandel takes us from 1912 to 2401, stopping in 2020 and 2203 along the way.
In 1912 we meet Edwin, who has been exiled from his home in the UK and has decided to give Canada a try. (“He has a sense of waiting for something. But what?“) In 2020 we are reintroduced to Mirella and Vincent from The Glass Hotel. In 2203, Olive is touring Earth for her most recent book while her husband and daughter are at home on the moon. (“Growing up in a moon colony was fine. It was neither great nor dystopian. It was a little house in a pleasant neighbourhood of tree-lined streets, a good but not extraordinary public school, life lived at a consistent 15 to 22 degrees Celsius under carefully calibrated dome lighting, scheduled rainfalls.“) In 2401 we meet a woman who works for the Time Institute and her brother who wishes he worked for the Time Institute. (“I’d been paying close attention my entire life.”)
The question is: Why and how are all these times and characters connected?
You won’t find out from me.
“My personal belief is that we turn to postapocalyptic fiction not because we’re drawn to disaster, per se, but because we’re drawn to what we imagine might come next.”
Where have your library books taken you lately?
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20 thoughts on “From the Library: Cherie Dimaline, Ingrid Persaud, and Emily St. John Mandel”
That’s quite a journey! I have The Glass Hotel on my shelves so should get to that before thinking about Sea of Tranquillity, particularly if there’s some overlap.
Sea of Tranquility definitely stands on its own, but already knowing a few of the characters makes it just that much sweeter!
I really loved Sea of Tranquility, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her so far.
Me too! 🙂
I loved the Mandel and Persaud (though the latter broke my heart), and I really must get back into Empire of Wild. Thanks for sharing your library reads!
Yes! My heart was breaking for every character in Love After Love. But especially Solo.
Sea of Tranquility sounds like one that I must read. I see others feel the same, as it is on hold in all libraries!
Mandel has been popular since Station Eleven came out. I recommend them all!
I did enjoy Empire of Wild. The Rogarou does fill the imagination!
It sure does!
I loved Sea of Tranquility, as you know. So glad you enjoyed it. She is so good as bringing together disparate threads of storyline. The others sound good too! My latest novel took me to a fictional small British harbor town in Elizabeth Taylor’s A View of the Harbour. It was so good!
Ahh. Soon I need to take a little “trip” to a town like that. (Even better if it was for real!)
I really want to read Cherie Dimaline – she’s won all the awards, and the premise of her books always seem to grab attention. The new Emily St. John Mandel looks good too – I haven’t read station eleven but I read Glass Hotel, so we will see if I remember any of these characters LOL
Good news – the book is great even if you don’t remember the characters!
Oh that is good news!
I didn’t know there were recurring characters in Emily St. John Mandel’s books. I recently read my first, Station Eleven, so I will keep my eyes open for more. Of course, by the time I read the next one, I will probably have forgotten and will need it pointing out to me. The same holds for David Mitchell. I like the sound of the Persaud, too.
The nice thing about Mandel’s books is that the recurring characters just feel like a bonus for readers who notice them – but there’s no need to recognize the characters in order to understand and enjoy her books!
Ohhh, just reading about you reading about those three characters in Ingrid Persaud’s debut novel makes me want to NOT read it all over again. But, I just loved that book so hard. And I still do. It doesn’t follow the kind of storytelling arc that you’re expecting, and it reminds you that real life doesn’t follow that arc naturally either, and all the love makes it hurt so much sometimes. I also really enjoyed that Dimaline novel, too, and I’m looking forward to the EStJM too, but it’s the only one of hers that I’ve not read and I kinda want to save it. Which makes no sense, I know. Sigh.
I bet there will be another one soon! I REALLY liked it.
I know exactly what you mean – it felt so real and hurt so much! Thanks for the rec! 🙂