Life in the City of Dirty Water by Clayton Thomas-Muller

A memoir of healing, indeed…

3/5 stars.
ebook, 331 pages.
Read from April 3, 2022 to April 4, 2022.

An 8 Sentence Review:

This book was the first to go during this year’s Canada Reads 2022 debates. This memoir reveals a moving story of trauma that has afflicted generations of First Nation Canadians but it missed the mark in meeting this year’s debate theme.

Clayton is a First Nation Canadian who writes on the traumas he experienced growing up in Canada, his struggles with addiction, and how it all brought him into political activism in terms of the environment and how they are intertwined with First Nation’s rights and issues. Clayton dedicates a lot of time talking about how he met his wife, how she helped save him, and ultimately everything she had to put up with in terms of his activism and addictions.

While the topics and struggles in this book are important and immensely relevant to Canada and its politics this book required a heavier hand from the editor. The author’s story felt like a jumbled journal of his thoughts and views. The book itself could have been more focused and concise, it’s as if the author couldn’t decide if they wanted to write a memoir or political non-fiction and the merge of the two was not successful. The author’s story is moving and intense at times drawing attention to the shocking realities that many First Nation Canadians have to deal with. While it is not the best-written book I’ve read on this important topic, it was still an interesting read in terms of the author’s activism and how he got involved in it. I wish the author all the best on his continued healing journey and I am glad he shared his story.

Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

“Destiny isn’t the judgements of providence, isn’t scrolls written by the hand of a demiurge, isn’t fatalism. Destiny is hope. Being full of hope, believing that what is meant to happen will happen.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 352 pages.
Read from October 4, 2021 to October 17, 2021.

An 8 Sentence Review:

If you’ve played the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, this book fills in some interesting pieces of that game that aren’t mentioned or discussed, however, the plot differs in terms of the main antagonist.

Continuing from where The Tower of Swallows left off, Ciri finds herself in an unknown realm on her own. The realm is unfamiliar to her and the elf inhabitants are unpleasant and indifferent to her despite their apparent vested interest in her as the child of prophecy. She is held captive by the elves and needs to find a way to escape this realm and find her way back to Geralt, despite the dangers she still faces in her own realm both from the war that is raging and from the Bonhart, who tortured and is still chasing her.

This read was an exciting end to Geralt and Ciri’s story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Ciri’s times with the elves and the escapades it took to get her out of that realm. These last two books were the best in the series so far, next to The Last Wish (still the best Witcher book, in my opinion) and if you play the games, these books provide interesting details on characters and additional storylines that aren’t explained in the games. A solid read and a great finale to the series.

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

“Every man you ever meet in nothing but the product of what was withheld from him, what he feels owed.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 236 pages.
Read from March 20, 2022 to March 24, 2022.

“The West you talk about doesn’t exist. It’s a fairytale, a fantasy you sell yourself because the alternative is to admit that you are the least important character in your own story. You invent an entire world because your conscience demands it, you invent good people and bad people and you draw a neat line between them because your simplistic morality demands it. But the two kinds of people in this world are not good and bad, they are engines and fuel. Go ahead, change your country, change your name, change your accent, pull the skin right off your bones, but in their eyes they will always be the engines and you will always, always be fuel.”

An 8(ish) Sentence Review:

This novel came in fourth during the Canada Reads 2022 debates. This novel was not the author’s first to grace the debates and his strength as a writer along with his personal refugee experience offer readers a rich and unique read.

What Strange Paradise follows the struggles of a young boy named Amir, who is the only survivor of a refugee boat crash. Every day new boats, wreckage, bodies and people show up on the shores of Vanna’s country. Vanna is a teenager but she is watching this humanitarian crisis unfold and can barely stomach the way her government and military are handling it. Luckily for Amir, it is Vanna that finds him and is willing to help him. The narration of the story moves from present to past, allowing the reader to slowly build the events that led to Amir’s arrival and meeting with Vanna.

This story puts a human face to those that have been forced to leave their homes for fear of death or persecution. Beautifully written, the author successfully creates a moving story, though it fell short of meeting the theme of the debates. I would highly recommend this novel to those looking for a novel on current political topics with a rich and engaging story.

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