After challenging myself to read one book representing each Canadian province and territory by the end of the year, I’d already covered four by the beginning of March. You might think I was rushing to get through the challenge, but only the books for Alberta and Saskatchewan were specifically chosen for this purpose. I decided to finally read some books that had been on my shelf for years, and they just happened to represent Manitoba and Ontario.
Since then, I’ve read two novels by Ontario writers that were so good they made up for my disappointment about my first selection.
by Caroline Pignat
The tagline on Goodreads is “The Breakfast Club Meets We Need to Talk About Kevin,” and that captures this YA novel very nicely.
It’s sometimes dramatic, sometimes funny, sometimes thrilling, and keeps you guessing right to the end.
This was my first time reading anything by Caroline Pignat, but I’ll be interested in checking out some of her other books, maybe Greener Grass or The Gospel Truth, for which she won the prestigious Governor General’s Award.
by Grace O’Connell
There’s no question that Magnified World takes place in Toronto. The novel is loaded with references to actual buildings, parks, street names, and even bus routes. This was very compelling for my book club, as we’ve all lived in Toronto at some point in our lives. It was fun to be able to picture some of the places described in the book.
The main character, Maggie, goes through a breakdown after her mother, who battled mental illness for most of her life, commits suicide. The story includes many flashbacks to earlier years as well as strange events which we assume to be Maggie’s delusions.
The book was beautifully written and I enjoyed it very much, but somewhere along the way I got confused about whether something really happened, or if it was just in Maggie’s mind. When this wasn’t clarified by the end of the book, I was tempted to re-read it so I could find out what I’d missed. I’m glad I saved myself the trouble, because nearly all of us had the same problem. This would lead one to believe that O’Connell wanted to make us think, however, since she doesn’t refer to the dilemma at all in her Book Club Questions for Magnified World, I’m inclined to think it was completely unintentional.
What about Newfoundland?, you might ask, and rightfully so. The title of this post promises it will be about Newfoundland. And it is.
Latitudes of Melt
by Joan Clark
When I first announced this challenge, my dear sister attempted to send me home with all the books I’d need. I declined, but when I realized how far I was falling behind on my self-set deadline, I asked to borrow two. This is one of them.
I could easily see why Kathy recommended this particular book. It had everything: history, geography, genealogy and science, all packaged together in a highly readable novel. While reading it, I was telling a friend who came from Newfoundland about it, and her recognition of the place names in the book and her description of the icebergs (which are prominent throughout) helped to strengthen my interest.
Need some ideas?
If you’re thinking of taking The Canadian Reading Challenge, you can get lots of ideas from Douglas Gibson’s Across Canada by Story: A Coast-to-Coast Literary Adventure (which I’ve read) and his first memoir, Stories About Storytellers (which I haven’t). Across Canada by Story is another book which held my interest due to its descriptions of places I’ve been, but it had the added charm of referring to people I’ve actually met.
Got some suggestions?
I have a book picked out for Nova Scotia, but I still have a long way to go! Please leave a comment to recommend any books about, taking place in, or written by authors from British Columbia, Quebec, Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories, New Brunswick and/or Prince Edward Island.