Monday, May 07, 2007

Review Time

Gabrielle Roy’s Governor General’s award winning novel Children of My Heart is one of the CBC Canada Reads 2007 selections.

The CBC Radio One series featured five panelists who each suggested a book they believe all Canadians should read. (Note — this does not mean the rest of world shouldn’t read it too!)

You must be able to enjoy a “quiet” book about a “quiet” life in order to appreciate this Canadian classic. By quiet, I mean a novel that is not flashy, does not contain violence, sex, murder, mayhem or trendy angst.

This is a gentle book — of a simple life (and lives) lived in small towns. With her deceptively simple prose (yes, again, I’m using the word simple) Roy conveys the themes of passion, love, family, and humanity in all its wondrous and not-so-wondrous glory.

Set against the stark background of the Canadian prairies of the 1930’s, this is a (semi-autobiographical) story of a young eighteen year old school teacher and her students. She teaches them — and in return receives lessons from the children about love, humility, strength, optimism and faith.

School is a place where these children can be children, where the harsh realities of their lives can be put aside for just a little while. Their appreciation for and joy of learning is a lesson for us all.

The book consists of a series of stories recounting the experiences of this young teacher. The very last story captures the life of a young fourteen year old boy on the brink of manhood. His confused yet strong, passionate feelings for the teacher are conveyed with such tenderness by Roy — as are the teacher’s feelings for him.

She offers him the gift of learning from the world of books — he offers her the gift of the natural world in which he thrives.

Theirs is a poignant love story — one that makes your heart ache for them both.

This is a novel about hope in the face of tremendous odds, innocence sustained amidst harsh, cruel conditions, the strength of the human spirit and a celebration of the uniqueness of the individual.

A “quiet, simple” read, yes. But so much more — and so worthwhile.


oreneta said...

That looks like a book I really want to read. I have to create some kind of list somewhere to keep track of these recommendations...

Beth said...

You could use a section of your blog to make such a list.
No one ever has to know if you ever got around to actually reading them! Just change it around once in awhile.

You could call it - "Books I Plan (Hope) to Read When I Have Some Spare Time."