It’s almost time! The debates kick off next week from March 26-29, 2018. In advance of the debates, I have read all five novels and have broken down the five into two lists. One, based on which ones I enjoyed the most and two, based on how the book best fits this year’s theme. Don’t forget to click on the links to read my full reviews on each novel!
Let’s start with the theme: One Book to Open Your Eyes. Here is how I think the debates will unfold and which book I think will be the winner.
5) The Marrow Thieves – Putting a dystopian YA novel in with other quality pieces of literature is always going to be a gamble and while the topic of the treatment of Native Americans is important the execution of this story just didn’t match up with the other contenders. The loose concept of dreams being stuck in bone marrow was a bit of stretch too.
4) Precious Cargo – I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It draws attention to children and families living with disabilities. The writing is lighthearted and humorous but lacks the depth of the other contending novels.
3) Forgiveness – Rife with Canadian history as well lesser-known war details about Canada’s time in Hong Kong during WWII. The author’s grandparents come to terms with the terrible misfortunes that the war has brought them and learn to forgive as their families come together. The writing can be a bit clunky and did not feel like a finished whole.
2) American War – Another dystopian though catered to a very adult audience. The content of this book is violent and brutal and draws a lot of attention to the realities of war and the politics behind it as well as the people that suffer in its wake.
1) The Boat People – Despite the slow start to this novel, this book takes the cake when it comes to the theme this year. The book is inspired by a real refugee crisis that happened in Canada in 2010 and it really opens your eyes past all the media and politics to the real issue facing refugees.
In terms of the books I enjoyed the most, however, I would rank the novels as such. It was tough this year as I found the difference in genres made it challenging as I enjoyed a few of the stories equally.
5) The Marrow Thieves – This book just didn’t click with me. The storytelling tradition aspects of the book are beautiful but the general YA premise just didn’t work for me.
4) Precious Cargo – I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it was the most uplifting of the five. Had the other books not been as poignant it would have been higher up on this list.
3) Forgiveness – Despite the issues I had with the writing style, the content about Hong Kong and the author’s time in a Japanese POW was absolutely captivating.
2) American War – This book surprised me the most. I was completely drawn into this world and the ending left me gutted.
1) The Boat People – Based on the first quarter of this book, I thought it was going to be on the bottom of this list, thankfully the dry story quickly came together to create something phenomenal and beautiful. This book combines dynamic and visceral characters paired with a memorable and important story that will be sure to tug on anyone’s conscience.
What do you think of my predictions and favourites? Do you agree? Comment and let me know!
Here are a few more details to get you prepped and ready for the debates! The contenders and their chosen books are:
- Mozhdah Jamalzadah, defending The Boat People by Sharon Bala
- Tahmoh Penikett, defending American War by Omar El Akkad
- Greg Johnson, defending Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson
- Jeanne Beker, defending Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto
- Jully Black, defending The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
The debates will air on CBC Radio One at 11:05 a.m. ET, CT, MT, PT; 1:05 p.m. in Atlantic Canada; and at 1:35 p.m. in Newfoundland and Labrador. They will also be live-streamed on CBC Books at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on CBC Television at 4 p.m. local time.