Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review-Canada

So, something unthinkable happens to you when you are fifteen through no fault of your own.   And your sense of what is, regardless of how fragile that sense might have been, is unearthed by this blindsiding event.  You are essentially without coordinates and are thrust into another place that is, for you at least, strange. You need to get your bearings and make this new place work.  But then, something horrific happens in this new place. This time you may even be peripherally complicit.  Again, your sense of what is, and what is right, takes a devastating blow.

Two points are made in this beautifully written if very depressing book--at least there are two points that keep recurring as I consider the book now about 24 hours since I finished it.  The first is that regardless of how horrible we have it, or have had it, we have an opportunity to live fulfilled lives.  The second is that people, essentially good people, can take very very wrong turns while thinking that they are taking correct turns, and wind up jeopardizing their lives.  

The book-- and this is told up front so it is not giving away anything--is about a fifteen year old boy who has a twin sister.  He and his twin are reared by essentially decent parents who decide, inexplicably, that the way to solve a financial problem and protect the family is to rob a bank.

Canada is told in two parts that are discrete stories. (There is a third part but it is really just an epilogue).  The first part is the story of how the parents come to the point that they decide to rob a bank. The second part takes place afterwards when the boy is taken by a family friend to Canada to live and start again.

I laugh out loud when I read sections of books.  Not a yuk in the 418 pages.  Yet the book, particularly the first part, is so well written that a reader can clearly think that this is a tale told from the vantage point of how a fifteen year old would experience it. A criticism could be that the book, we find out early on, is the reminiscences of that 15 year old when he is 66.  Yet it reads in the first part like how a 15 year old would have experienced and relayed the events.

A meter for me when evaluating a book is how much that book sticks with me after I've read it.  I think Canada will stick for a spell. It may not last especially long because some of the events in the story are so preposterous and unlikely to have occurred without repercussions that in the story did not occur. Also, several episodes in the story were not even peripherally related to the novel and I found myself thinking what possible reason could there be for including this episode or that. 

Still, I am not sure we can be reminded too many times, that no matter what hardships we have experienced, there is a way out.  And that way out is a determination to be true to who you are, and to know that we have the opportunity, if not the obligation, to try and live fulfilling lives. No matter what, this life is the only shot we have.

No comments:

Post a Comment