Book Review: The Break by Katherena Vermette

I recently read The Break in preparation for attending the Canada Reads debates (I’m still pretty bitter about the way it was voted off–but that’s for another time). blog4I have to admit, this book likely wouldn’t have otherwise been at the top of my reading list. I regret my haste in dismissing it, because, as I realized rather quickly, Vermette’s book was one that would stay with me long after the final page.

I became wholly invested in the characters, as individuals but also as a collective of diverse yet interconnected women; each of them strong, broken, resilient, sympathetic, uncompromising, severe, tender and stubborn in their own ways and at varying points in the story; each of them giving in to their delusions during moments of weakness while somehow finding the strength to attend to the demands of their present realities. These complexities made each woman feel real and viable, their myriad traits running like intertwined threads through an equally rich plot.

Yes, this book addresses a devastating incident that, unfortunately, is not a rarity in the world that these women inhabit. Yet, Vermette makes it about so much more. She investigates the fluctuations of relationships, the impact of loss, the complications of family life and what it means to be a woman (whether that’s a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother or a friend) navigating contemporary Canadian terrain.

In my opinion, THIS is the book Canada needs right now. So despite the outcome at Canada Reads, please find some time for Vermette’s  first fore into fiction.

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My 2017 Reading Goals

Admittedly, I read no where near as much as I wanted to in 2016. Despite being in the midst of my Master’s in english lit, the list of books I read cover to cover last year was pretty meagre. Maybe this had something to do with my total focus on course texts, but I think if I dig a little deeper I can concede to the fact that I was also (maybe, possibly) lacking a little in the way of motivation. Any time I had off from school was definitely not time that I wanted to be spending exerting any kind of extra brain power.

Much to my dismay, books on my shelf began to collect dust and my pile of to-reads grew overwhelming large. So, this year I’ve made a promise to myself (and those poor dusty books) to make a more concerted effort. I’m challenging myself to read at least 30 books this year and here’s how I plan to do it:

  1. Read on the Road: I recently started a new job that requires a serious commute to and from downtown TO. But, I don’t seem to mind it so much when I have a good book on hand. The train is really the ideal reading spot. Just cozy up on the “Quiet Zone” level and let the words take you home.
  2. Hit Pause: Watching Netflix before bed has become something of a routine for me. This is at least an hour each night that I could be using for more bookish endeavours.
  3. Save Time and Skip it: I’ve come to realize that pushing myself to finish a book that I really can’t get into ends up wasting tons of time that could have been used to read one of the millions of other amazing books out there. If it just isn’t clicking 50 pages in, it probably isn’t going to happen and forcing yourself makes reading feel like a chore. Put the book down and move on!
  4. List it: Keeping track of what I read definitely helps me feel accomplished and motivates me to keep reading. I use an app called Reco and find that its list-making capabilities are super useful.
  5. Blog Away: Having a space to share my thoughts on all things book related makes reading feel like a communal act rather than a lonely one. I’ve started up blogs before, and  have gotten lazy to the point of completely forgetting about them. This time, I will commit to uploading content more steadily as a reminder that I have a place to spread the literary love.

Happy reading!