Once I finished that, I decided to get into some Can Lit! Here in Canada, last week was the Canada Reads competition. Five books are picked on a theme, and five celebrity-types are picked. A book and a person are paired, and the person has to defend the book and argue why it’s the best. This has got me in a patriotic mood 😛 Although… The book I chose is not one of the ones that was in the competition! They did inspire me though!
I’ve picked up Black Apple by Joan Crate. This is a recent release. It’s a coming of age story set in Canada in the 1940’s within the residential school system. The main character is a girl named Rose who was torn away from her indigenous family by the authorities and placed in a residential school. These were boarding schools run by the Catholic Church that sought to indoctrinate and assimilate the Native people into their culture. Any vestiges of Native culture were strictly prohibited—and forcefully so.
I’m not very far into the book, but right now the school is kind of reminding me of Lowood school in Jane Eyre. The children are treated similarly poorly (physically and psychologically)—and with the added cruelty of cultural eradication. This is a particularly timely book with the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission mandate finishing up in 2015.
I’m looking forward to getting further into this book and exercising my empathy and compassion muscles. It can be so hard, even impossible, to put ourselves in other’s shoes. But fiction has that amazing capability of placing us, the reader, alongside the characters as they go through life.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.