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Prairie Ostrich

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Bookish, eight-year-old Egg Murakami lives on her family’s ostrich farm in rural, southern Alberta. It is the end of the summer, 1974. Since her brother’s death, her Mama curls inside a whiskey bottle and her Papa shuts himself in the barn. Big sister Kathy — in love with her best friend, Stacey — reinvents the bedtime stories she reads to Egg so that they end in a happily ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 4th 2013 by Goose Lane Editions
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  136 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi is not a bold book. It is not a quick read. It is not an action-packed book. It is not explicit. For these reasons, and more, this first-time novel is one of the most powerful I’ve ever read.

Kobayashi, who was born in Japan and raised in Canada, has crafted one hell of a mesmerizing novel. It’s the kind of fascinating that you might miss, though, if you try to read it too fast; it would be too easy to miss the subtle, quiet power of this novel. So take your tim
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, canadian, arc, lpg2014
This is an outstanding book. My only qualm is the way-too-detailed description here on Goodreads - fortunately, I didn't read it before reading the book. Please consider letting readers discover plot points on their own!
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
1974, Bittercreek, Alberta. Eight-year-old Egg Murakami is the youngest of three children born to Japanese-Canadian parents who have an ostrich farm in outside this small prairie town. Her older sister, seventeen-year-old Kathy, is a star basketball player and often impatient with Egg, but she is also Egg's de facto mother figure now that their older brother, Albert, is dead. Their mother remains gentle and kind, but loses herself in poorly-hidden alcohol, while their taciturn father never leave ...more
It is easy to get sidetracked by the endearing, precocious Egg, youngest child of the only Japanese family living within any distance on the vast Canadian prairie. The reader may challenge her precocity, or be dazzled by her insight and moved by her urgent need to make sense of the world.

She knows that things have a purpose, that she must get it right. p8
Everyone is different but only white people were normal. Even the television says that. p17

You make up a story to make sense of the world. But
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Egg's story about her family recovering from tragedy, about not fitting in, and about carrying all the world's woes on her shoulders is powerful and heart-wrenching. Beautifully written - I could see the never-ending Alberta flatlands through Egg's eyes.
Gorgeous style, powerfully moving, quietly excellent. Read this if you can.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Murakami family are the only Japanese-Canadian family in their area of rural southern Alberta in 1974. They run an ostrich farm and the oldest son, Albert, died in a horrible accident not long before the book opens.  Imogene "Egg" Murakami is a precocious 8 year old who loves to read the dictionary and science books for kids. She is bullied at school and finds solace in the local library.

Her mother drowns her grief in a bottle. Her father isolates his out in the barn with the birds. Her olde
Oh, this book, this book. As I read it I thought 'five stars', 'two stars', 'three stars??'. I ended up giving four stars, in large part because the story did provoke strong feelings in me.

I do admit, however, that it was a difficult decision because the book, and the associated emotions, were often very heavy. At times, I wanted to yell, 'OK, I get it!! There are problems in Egg's life, her family, her school, and her town, but does NOTHING EVER happen that is not full of angst and anger and s
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: qtipoc
Really powerful and emotional book. Felt very visceral to be immersed in the life of 8-year old Egg in a small white Albertan town. Very well written perspective of a child making sense of the world amidst death, societal norms, race, and gender.
Silvia Demmy
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
enjoyed the book cover to cover.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
(Fiction, Canadian, Literary)

From an Amazon reviewer:

“Bookish, [Japanese-Canadian] eight-year-old Egg Murakami lives on her family’s ostrich farm in rural, southern Alberta. It is the end of the summer, 1974. Since her brother’s death, her Mama curls inside a whiskey bottle and her Papa shuts himself in the barn. Big sister Kathy — in love with her best friend, Stacey — reinvents the bedtime stories she reads to Egg so that they end in a happily ever after.

Confronted by bullies and the perplexi
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
It is a very subtle, very poignant, very well written story. There are lots of subtle foreshadowing done beautifully. Don't read it expecting much to happen, all that happens is more or less mentioned in the summary (which luckily doesn't ruin the subtlety of the narration, but does make it a little less satisfying).

The kid's voice rings true to me, and she will be relatable to anyone who was reserved, curious, weirdly bookish (I definitely related to her love of the dictionnary) as a child. The
Janet Cameron
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blue, canadian
Beautiful, heart-breaking novel. Egg is eight years old, growing up in the late seventies on an ostrich farm outside a small town in Alberta as part of the only Japanese family in the area. Her brother Albert is gone, her devastated parents aren't speaking to each other, and her older sister needs to escape the town and find freedom, but then who will take care of Egg? Perfect child's-eye viewpoint and intensely beautiful writing. I was in agonies of suspense by then end thinking something terri ...more
Easily one of the best books I've read all year (maybe ever?) and really, really difficult to get in the States. Have already recommended it to every library system of which I am a card carrying member.
Doriana Bisegna
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
The time period of this novel takes places in the 70's. All the references to t.v. shows, books and events were of the same time that I was a young girl, as Egg, the narrator! This had me chuckling and thinking back to that time...that naive time! Loved Egg!
Mary Anne
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: country-read
A very sensitive look at minorities' lives in small town Alberta and the racism and bullying to which these minorities must submit.
Michelle Mismash
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Egg is the loveliest character I've read in a long time. Such a wonderful melding of sadness and wonder as this sweet, young one seeks to find her footing in the world.
Amy Margaret
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book took me awhile to read, but I finished before it expired from the library. At first, I couldn't get in to the story because it made my heart ache...this poor family who had lost a child and now the narrator is getting bullied. But I stuck it out and wanted to see the conclusion. Very interestingly written from a child's perspective and the thoughts jump around like in the mind of a child.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
An excellent descriptive view of life through the eyes of an eight year old struggling to make sense of the world: the brokenness, the grief, and the senseless actions of others that cause so much hurt. I, too, wanted to know so much more about the other characters and their stories and I felt the frustration of being contained inside Egg's view of life.
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book, set in 1974 small town Alberta, tells the story of Egg Murakami, eight years old and the youngest child of the only Japanese-Canadian family living in the area who also happens to farm ostriches. This book had tons of potential but the first time author tried to jam pack every significant issue that could impact a child in a very short book. Egg has recently lost her older brother in an accident, her mother has turned to the bottle and her father never leaves his barn. Egg is bullied ...more
Set back in the early 1970’s, Prairie Ostrich follows a year in the life of Egg Murakami, an 8-year old Japanese-Canadian girl living in the small town of Bittercreek, Alberta. Life is hard for Egg, first of all because her family is the only non-white family in the entire area. Her classmates are cruel to her and she can’t figure out what to do to fit in. To make matters worse, her family is disintegrating under the weight of her older brother’s recent death, which no one wants to talk about. E ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm a bit torn about this book. On the one hand, it's kind of brilliant. The whole novel is told from the perspective of eight-year-old Egg, whose family has recently suffered a tragedy. Kobayashi writes Egg's thoughts in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style, which is both remarkably accurate and difficult to follow. This is not a quick read. Egg's thoughts jump from topic to topic incredibly quickly, and the link is not always obvious unless you take a minute to think about it.

The book is al
John Young
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found the book enthralling and a quick read. It was a little confusing at times the way Egg would jump around, and I sometimes found her "lists" to be tedious. But the plot was captivating, and Egg is a protagonist who you root for. She's delightful and has profound perspectives on life. The writing is also vivid. Yes, it is a sad book, but I kept reading because I wanted Egg to succeed. And she does.
Steven Buechler
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Kobayashi has written an excellent story about eight-year old Egg Murakami. Her family is not quite dysfunctional but not a perfect family unit since her brother's death. Mama Murakami drinks to excess and Papa has moved into the barn on their family ostrich farm. And big sister Kathy is in love with her best friend. The story deals with Egg's day-to-day exploration of what life is suppose to be like and what it really is.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing!! I was reading it for the Amnesty International book club and loved it. It takes place in rural Alberta post WWII from the point of view of an 8 year old Japanese girl. This book deals with bullying, abuse, alcoholism, sexuality, inappropriate relationships, and death. Lots of heavy issues but it was amazing. Fabulous read would recommend.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
When the death of her brother turns her family upside down, Egg tries to cope. Being Japanese, she is isolated, bullied, misunderstood and an outsider in this rural community. Her older lesbian sister is her strength and support. Very moving.
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
3.5. Almost a 4. The ending kind of ruined it for me. But a very good story, and great portrayal of a young protagonist which is no easy thing!
Jan 26, 2015 rated it liked it
It is amazing how she is able to get into a child's head to tell the story. It really opens ones eyes to the issues that a child must come to grips with as they grow up.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
There were so many interesting themes and ideas in this book- ostrich farming, childhood grief, being the only Japanese family in a small prairie town. Still digesting this one.
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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Amnesty Internati...: November 2016 - Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi 10 42 Dec 24, 2016 10:19PM  
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I was born in Japan and raised in Canada and I have lived in Calgary and Toronto. I am a writer and screenwriter. Prairie Ostrich is my first novel.
“In her socks, Egg glides down the hallway, as if on ice. She's like the Flash, so fast you can see only a blur The Flash is almost invisible, but it's the almost that troubles her, the red streak of almost that catches the eye. Superheroes save the day. She knows they are fiction, but a part of her wants so much for them to be real, like Newton's equal and opposite forces.” 0 likes
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