Friday, January 22, 2016 |
On January 20, the Canada Reads 2016 panellists revealed their faces - and book selections - to the world. They also made a case for why their chosen novels should be crowned this year's winner of the battle of the books on CBC Radio's q. Here's what they had to say:
Tragedies are a great source of pain, but they can also be a great source of learning as pain helps us grow, and growth helps us change. The Hero's Walk shows us that while life throws us many challenges, it also gives us the gift of a second chance - a second chance that can help us right old wrongs, evolve and better the lives of those we love. This is a richly textured read that transcends cultures and countries. It shows us that each one of us can be a hero - that we can look change in the eye and walk a road that leads to transformation and betterment.
For fiction, this book is incredibly real. She starts over not once, not twice, but three times, with the death of the main character's mother, her father and her sister. I haven't told you anything that's not on the back cover, but I'll tell you what - this is about deception. It's about despair. But ultimately it's about love. It's about the love between two sisters. You go on a roller-coaster ride, and at the end of the book you feel like you know those characters, and you put it down, you walk away and you wish you could get the sequel.
We're in the midst of a global refugee crisis. Intolerance, xenophobia and division are mounting as we struggle to make sense of it all. The Illegal puts a face to the faceless, and it brings a humanity to the struggle. It's heavy, it's lively, it's playful and it is so real. It's a thriller that sweeps you along. The protagonist: an athlete whose Olympic dreams are all but gone. He is now running for survival, and he's running for his life.
There are so many reasons why this book should win Canada Reads, but first and foremost, this is a quintessentially Canadian story that is relevant to Canada right now. We meet Bernice Meetoos, a young Cree girl making her way in the world and overcoming untold violence, which is all she knows. Her journey to womanhood is gripping and insightful, and it's told masterfully by Tracey Lindberg in a novel that is at times confronting, it's dark, it's surprisingly humorous. For all of us who care about reconciliation, and frankly we all should, this book opens that path.
This competition is about redemption, about starting over, about beginning anew in your life, and that's what this book is all about. I'd like to read an excerpt: 'When things are hard, you adjust the dial on your emotions and learn new, complicated emotions that work over the scar tissue of torment, and allow the face and hands to convey a manner of grace.' It's about falling flat on your face, picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and how you walk on.