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Monkey Beach

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  2,131 ratings  ·  189 reviews
Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different.

Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can't
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodLife of Pi by Yann MartelAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryWater for Elephants by Sara GruenA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Best Canadian Literature
63rd out of 768 books — 713 voters
Monkey Beach by Eden RobinsonThree Day Road by Joseph BoydenThrough Black Spruce by Joseph BoydenThe Orenda by Joseph BoydenGreen Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
Best Canadian Aboriginal Fiction
1st out of 36 books — 22 voters

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Community Reviews

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Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
Books like this are exactly why I love Netgalley. I never would have found this book except for through that website. You have to wade through a whole lot of not so good books and then you find this one..that just makes your heart sing.

Monkey Beach-that magical place that b'gwus (Sasquatches) are.

"Jimmy," Dad said. "Sasquatches are make believe, like fairies. They don't really exist."

Or do they?

This book follows Lisa Marie Michelle Hill on her journey through her memories after her b
Jennifer (aka EM)
Intriguing but inconsistent. I couldn't get a grip on the main character (Lisamarie) or the stages/phases of her development; there was something off for me in terms of the timeline. Events - shocking, sudden deaths of important characters, for example - seem to happen "off-stage" with only their longer-term impacts discussed (again, intriguing, but the style left me disconnected from the narrative as a whole). A lot was mentioned in passing or so indirectly that it lost its impact (e.g., Mick a ...more
Find a map of British Columbia...

Eden Robinson's debut Monkey Beach is set in the north coast of BC, just where the Alaskan Aleutian Islands and the province's own Charlotte Islands begin. There lies the city of Kitimat, surrounded by picturesque mountains and pine trees of the Pacific Northwest. "Kitimat" comes from the Thshimian language, and means "people/place of the snow" - an answer that they gave to European explorers when asked about the place and people who inhabited it - the Haisla.

"Weegit the raven has mellowed in his old age. He's still a confirmed bachelor, but he's not the womanizer he once was. Plying the stock market - instead of spending his time being a trickster - has paid off and he has a comfortable condo downtown. He plays up the angle about creating the world and humans, conveniently forgetting that he did it out of boredom. Yes, he admits, he did steal the sun and the moon, but he insists he did it to bring light to humankind even though he did it so it would ...more
I could not resist the narrative voice of this earthy, augury filled, family rich story set in the First Nations Haisla community of western Canada. Nineteen year old Lisamarie is generally fearless and never takes guff from anyone--she’ll launch herself at a gang of bullies without hesitation and her uncle affectionately calls her monster--but the nighttime visits she receives from a small, wild, red haired man terrify her because they always precede a death or tragedy. It’s a visionary “gift” ...more
Jennifer D
2.5-stars, if we could.

there was much about this novel that was appealing, particularly the aspects of native culture, and the settings. lisa's relationship with ma-ma-oo was my favourite piece of the book, and the knowledge lisa gained from her grandmother was so interesting to me. robinson deals with some very difficult themes within native culture. given the current unacceptable and heartbreaking situation in canada concerning the murdered and missing indigenous women, this is a very timely r
Angela M
3.5 rounded up to 4

Originally pub in 2002 and , nominated for multiple awards, this coming of age story is a powerful story of place, of family, of grief, of one's roots. The setting is the amazing geography of the Pacific Northwest on the coast of British Columbia. It is the land of the Haisla Indian in Kitamat Village ,

At the start of the novel, we meet 20 year old Lisa Marie Hill, who is struggling along with her family in trying to deal with the disappearance of her younger brother Jimmy. L
This book I picked up randomly in a used book exchange in an airport just before I flew out to BC. Since this book took place in BC, I thought it would be a fitting companion for my trip. I'm so glad I stumbled upon this book.
This is a beautiful story of a Haisla Native Canadian girl growing up in a BC Indian reserve with a unique gift of being "connected to the spirit world".
We meet Lisa Hill as she finds out that her champion swimmer brother has been lost at sea while on a fishing rig. Whi
MONKEY BEACH is one of those books were I am honestly unsure about how I feel about it. I suspect Robinson prefers it that way. MONKEY BEACH slips and slides between the past and the presents, tying the disparate parts of heroine Lisamarie's life together in unexpected ways. The nominal driving force of the novel is the disappearance of Lisamarie's older brother, Jimmy. He was on a fishing boat that disappeared; however, he is a great swimmer and there are tons of islands, so there's a small cha ...more
Just read this book again and confirmed my admiration for it. Robinson's prose is as chilling as the creatures who lurk just beyond the tree-line at Monkey Beach. Offers an honest yet understated inquiry into the viral effects of abuse, whether via residential school, between relatives, or self-inflicted through substances. When a book can make me cry, I revere it; but Robinson's greatest strength lies in this - she somehow captures the most arresting moments between broken individuals without l ...more
Kelly Lachapelle
I’m really fortunate that this text was a class requirement as I probably would never have read it otherwise. Sadly this notion parallels many great Indigenous Canadian works that don’t seem to greet the faces of enough readers. The upshot to this is those who do get to experience its worth can appreciate its value.

This coming-of-age novel, which centres around Lisamarie and the Hill family, interweaves some brilliant supernatural elements. There is a dynamic that unfolds as a dichotomy between
Carrie Kellenberger
This was a beautiful book to read, and one that I will read again. Eden Robinson does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Northern British Columbia's indigenous people, the Haisla. The story, which is narrated by 19-year-old Lisamarie Hill, opens with the news that Lisa's 18-year-old brother has gone missing. Her brother's disappearance triggers Lisa's memories of the deaths of her uncle and grandmother. As the present story develops, Lisa relives those moments in her childhood and revea ...more
This is a good example of what I've been looking for: First class contemporary Canadian literature first published sometime since the 80s. It's a refreshing break from all of the usual suspects, and a great literary debut. Very clean, beautiful prose and rich with style. My only complaint has more to do with Canadian fiction as a whole - it seems like northern life has become ground all too frequently tread, and the cliches can get a bit thick at times. Wilderness, reserve life, Vancouver itself ...more
I read the last pages of this novel while being on a train, listening to Mumford and Sons and – very inconvenient when using public transportation – crying. Ever since that day the song “After the Storm” for me has been connected to this book; I reckon that might be because I don’t understand the song properly but I get its sense of melancholia, beauty, loneliness and love. All of these are part of my reading experience of Monkey Beach, but there is so much more.

And I took you by the hand
And we
Reading for a neighbourhood bookclub. Probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own.

I'm so glad I read this book. It's one of the best I have read for a long time. Even though it was sad in places and death was always present, the book had a strong sense of life. It was vivid. I loved so many things about it:

The story was powerful and engaging from the first page. I wanted to know what happened next and hated putting it down. All the different elements that were introduced throughout the story w
Sahla ilham
This book was a surprise to me. Infused
with haisla culture it deals with life issues
with stark realism while blending in the
mysticism of native blood. While on a boat trip
to save her brother's life, Lisamarie's self
reflection paints a picture which gives an
insight to her troubles in struggling to accept
her gift and also the loss of some of the most
colorful people in her life. The unforgettable
characters of uncle mick the rebel activist and
grand mother mamaoo Lisa's only real
connection to her roo
Margaret1358 Joyce
This story has an authentic ring, a heart. It conveys the sense of a 21st century Canadian First Nations youth and young adulthood-- young lives perched between the old and the new ways-lives at a cultural crossroads. The writer's 'way' is to alternate between dream and waking reality with an ebb and flow reflective of the Pacific Northwest coastline where the story is set. The narrator is a gifted young girl more drawn to the 'old ways' than to the new; the story she tells is that of her younge ...more
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Monkey Beach was read for the CBC Goodreads Book Club and the "Reading Across Canada" theme. This was the first - British Columbia. I read ahead again - was supposed to make this last for the month. I found that while this had a really strong start, and one I was enjoying, petered out considerably in the middle - lots of filler and it spiralled downhill - the way Lisa Marie's life was headed, and the pages and pages of description of fish and the types of fish went on far too long and then impor ...more
A tale that combines both humour and tragedy, western culture and aboriginal culture, wisdom and foolhardy decisions, Monkey Beach is as beautiful as it is haunting. Told in the perspective of Lisamarie Michelle Hill, a young Haisla First Nations girl, the story unfolds as a coming-of-age adventure fraught with heartbreak and humour in equal parts. Intertwined throughout the story is the tragedy of her brother’s disappearance and her journey to look for him at Monkey Beach.

This novel captivate
God knows what the crows are trying to say. La'es – go down to the bottom of the ocean, to get snagged in the bottom, like a halibut hook stuck on the ocean floor; a boat sinking, coming to rest on the bottom. The seiner sank? Mom and Dad are in danger if they go on a boat? I should go after him? I used to think that if I could talk to the spirit world, I'd get some answers. Ha bloody ha. I wish the dead would just come out and say what they mean instead of being so passive-aggressive about the

Originally posted at

"I want to stay here on Monkey Beach. Some places are full of power, you can feel it, like a warmth, a tingle. No sasquatches are wandering around the beach today, chased by ambitious, camera-happy boys. Just an otter lounging in the kelp bobbing in the surf and the things in the trees, which may or may not be my imagination."

Jimmy Hill is lost at sea, the fishing boat he was on has lost contact and things are not looking good. Lisamar
Kenneth  the 13th Doctor
One of the strangest books I have ever read... Not very good.

I read this book because it was by a Canadian author and my friend had read it. However, after finishing this book, my breath flew out of my mouth with a sigh of relief..


This book self-deprecating in itself. The book begins with Lisa, a Haisla native in search for his lost brother whose ship was scuttled. A series of flashbacks occur in the novel which forms the main plot. It was quite hard to understand when the flashbac
I think this is one messy beach. Monkeys are unclean! Dislike. No one would want to go to that beach. Not a good book.
Eden Robinson has crafted a beautiful portrait of life in Kitamaat. I loved the supernatural elements woven throughout the novel, the explorations of Haisla culture, and the juxtaposition of Haisla tradition (Ma-ma-oo) and Western modernity (Lisamarie and peers). Robinson has a talent for painting haunting scenes involving symbolic animals, supernatural beings, and premonitions.

However, the main plot of the novel did not play out as clearly. The first half of the novel dragged on far too long w
3.5 stars. This book was kinda weird. It was also really confusing. I felt like the jumps in time were not that clear, so sometimes I did not realize how old she was or was supposed to be at any given moment. The writing was really nice, but it was a pretty tragic book though. I didn't get the connection between her vision of the short man and the events in her life until way too long into the book. It definitely had a bit of a creepy factor which was nice, but I felt like the different parts of ...more
Dorothy Hermary
The timeline for this narrative is circular and I wasn't quite sure where I was in any developments. While initially I found this disconcerting, the farther I got into the book the more I appreciated the layering. The inclusion of native myth and beliefs provided insight into a culture that I only try to understand and appreciate. The author's descriptions of scenery are rich in details and there is no doubt that she has seen what she describes.
An example is:
We drove past Costi Island, which spl
Zoe Brooks
This is another excellent example of magic realist writing by a member of the North American native peoples. In this case the writer is from the Canadian Haisla people who live in British Columbia. Monkey Beach is full of the detail of the Haisla life, which is a significant part of its appeal. The book, like its heroine, at once embraces elements of Haisla tradition and mysticism and at the same time faces the hard realities of life. Not least of those realities is the legacy of abuse experienc ...more
Writing: 4
Story: 3.5
Satisfaction: 4

Monkey Beach starts off slowly. It actually took me about a quarter of the book before I started investing in any of what was going on. But after that point, once the characters start to form and the mystery of Jimmy being lost at sea starts to fade into the background, the book really picks up.

The writing style felt a bit like Chuck Palahniuk in that it's purposefully vague so the reader doesn't have a lot to go on in the beginning. There are also chapters th
Monkey Beach has been described as a psychological thriller with supernatural elements, and that is close to the truth. But it is primarily the coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to come to terms with the troubled and troubling world in which she lives. Lisamarie Hill, nineteen, has settled into an uneasy truce with her family in Kitamaat, B.C., after residing for several booze-soaked months in Vancouver. Lisamarie's family is a part of the Haisla community of northern coastal British Colu ...more
Another Canadian novelist, Giller prize nominee. Story takes place in a BC native community and the author does a good job of describing a clash of cultures, and the old vs new ways of life amongst the First Nations. A good story, simply told.
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Eden Victoria Lena Robinson (born 19 January 1968) is a Canadian novelist and short story writer.

Born in Kitamaat, British Columbia, she is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations. She was educated at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia.

More about Eden Robinson...
Traplines Blood Sports Sasquatch at Home: Traditional Protocols & Modern Storytelling Terminal Avenue Sasquatch at Home (The): Traditional Protocols & Modern Storytelling (Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture Series)

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