This graphic novel includes several stories, following one Cree family through the generations. The framing story is a mother telling the stories to hThis graphic novel includes several stories, following one Cree family through the generations. The framing story is a mother telling the stories to her son, who just tried to commit suicide. He gains strength through learning about his family's past.
This was a really beautiful story. There are really painful parts in it, from the Europeans bringing smallpox, to the horrors of the residential schools, yet throughout there is still a sense of hope and strength, often coming from the characters' connection with their past.
The art, by Scott B. Henderson, is also lovely. From the simple facial expressions to the intense vision quests, it really brings the story to life.
This review is copied from my blog, The Towering Pile. It was originally published here....more
Wow. So good. And I'm not just saying that because the author is one of my favourite professors. I didn't know what to expect going in. I read fantasyWow. So good. And I'm not just saying that because the author is one of my favourite professors. I didn't know what to expect going in. I read fantasy, with some sci-fi and young adult books thrown in for good measure. This is not my usual genre. But it hooked me right from the beginning.
One of the first things I noticed was the details that were mentioned. It seems like they were different details than most authors would mention. It's hard to describe, but I found it made me relate to the characters more. Also, and somewhat related, I loved the way Ruth and Lon's relationship was so... real. The ups and downs, the little things they'd fight about. It's hard to compress months of a relationship down to a few chapters; this is something all authors probably have to deal with. But I found there was just the right mixture of fighting, sex, and the mundane realities of day to day life to make the relationship seem real to me.
Being a Winnipegger, I got all excited every time there were references to Winnipeg-specific thing. I like the idea of people who have never been to Winnipeg reading this book and, through it, learning what Winnipeggers are like. Like how everyone talks about the weather during the winter and in the first warm days of Spring. And how Pembina has a silent b, "rhymes with lemon-a".
And, to conclude my review, an excerpt from near the beginning of the book (no spoilers), which really made me laugh, because I'm totally one of the kind of people it's talking about. Even though some books obviously become really dated and no longer serve a purpose, it's so hard to think of them being destroyed.
But most librarians have a strict and unwritten policy: accept all book donations graciously, and discard unwanted books very, very quietly. Any good librarian knows that although no one wants these books, no one wants to know they were destroyed. "Perfectly good books," people exclaim. "Books," they emphasize, as if they were talking about babies, or jewels, or gods, "lying there in the dumpster." So librarians quietly, tastefully, dispose.