A sensitive, well-told story of one life ruined by the racism of involuntary assimilation.

CONCENTRATION CAMPS OF CANADA

A Native Canadian boy tries to find his way as a man despite his cultural alienation in this novel.

The residential school system aimed to forcibly assimilate Native peoples by taking children from their parents. The kids were given European names, punished for speaking their own languages, and put to work. Abuses and exploitation were rife, and many children died. In this tale, Migizi Baswenaazhi, a young Native boy, is taken from his home and put in a harsh school where he’s assigned the name David Bass. Unlike many children, he survives disease and the bad food; polite and hardworking, he at first does well. But David is an outsider in his own country. He turns to drinking for escape and wrecks whatever he’s built up. Yet he’s hopeful, reflecting that he’s like the tannery furs that become soft and warm again after harsh processing: “The truth of the material survived everything.” World War II gives David the opportunity to find his truth as a warrior. But helping to liberate Bergen-Belsen disturbs him, bringing back memories about being sexually abused by a priest at the school. At home, he’s hailed as a hero, though by 1960 he still can’t protect his family from the schools. According to the book’s introduction by Baron Alexander Deschauer (Slaves of Circumstance, 2017, etc.) and debut author Lucky Deschauer, “Hitler was so inspired by the residential school system…that he used it as a model for the concentration camps.” It’s true that Hitler found inspiration from the design of Native American reservations but not from the schools, so this statement and the title are misleading. That said, the schools were horrific, and this novel is far more thoughtful than its sensationalist introduction or title would suggest. The Deschauers capture David’s point of view with intelligence and sympathy. A farmer’s harsh words strike him “like the branches that slapped my face when I was young and followed my father in the bush,” as if even then the world conspired to slap David with his ethnicity. They portray David’s complications well—his anger, self-hatred, despair, and rationalizations—as when he beats his wife with his belt: “I knew how to do it; the sisters and brothers did it often enough to us. They helped me become the man I was.”

A sensitive, well-told story of one life ruined by the racism of involuntary assimilation.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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