Canada Reads 2021 Predictions

One book to transport us… which one will it be?

I’ve finished reading all the Canada Reads 2021 contenders and just in time as the debates kick off today. While I haven’t finished writing up reviews for them all, I’ve got a break down of my favourites of the five as well as what I think will win the debates this year. Let’s start with my favourites.

Favourites:

1. Butter Honey Pig Bread – Francesca Ekquyasi

A possible contender for one of the best books I’ll read this year. Outstanding story and writing that made for a book I couldn’t put down and that I thought about for days after. I highly recommend it.

2. Hench – Natalie Zina Walschots

Know the TV show “The Boys“? This plot has a similar setup in that it shows that sometimes the superheroes aren’t always the good guys. Really captivating read with interesting characters.

3. Midnight Bargain – C.L. Polk

I was expecting to hate this novel and I didn’t. It was an engaging and fun story that brings up relevant feminist issues. Think of a Jane Austen story but with a magical twist and you’ve got Midnight Bargain. It was an enjoyable read and while there isn’t anything overly literary about it definitely transported me.

4. Jonny Appleseed – Joshua Whitehead

It pains me to rank this book here as I loved it, just not as much as the others. It’s an interesting story that discusses difficult topics while also highlighting beautiful aspects of humanity.

5. Two Trees Make A Forest – Jessica J. Lee

I thought I’d love this novel and I really wanted to like but there were just a few too many missing aspects. Memoirs are a tough genre and this one read more like a journal making it difficult to connect with.

Predicted Ranking:

So this year’s theme is One Book to Transport You and based on that this is how I think the books will stack up in meeting that theme:

  1. Midnight Bargain
  2. Butter Honey Pig Bread
  3. Two Trees Make A Forest
  4. Jonny Appleseed
  5. Hench

How would you rank this year’s reads? Who do you think will win? Looking forward to the debates!

The debates will take place March 8-11, 2021.

They will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

“Hold it gently, this hungry beast that is your heart. Feed it well.”

5/5 stars.
ebook, 441 pages.
Read from February 21, 2021 to February 24, 2021.

I’m finally starting to catch up on the Canada Reads selection for this year, hopefully just in time for the debates happening soon. This is book three of five of the Canada Reads 2021 contenders. Roger Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi in the debates taking place on March 8-11.

Butter Honey Pig Bread begins in Lagos with a young Kambirinachi, an Ogbanje, who is a spirit that causes misfortune to a family by being born and then dying as a child, unwilling to commit to the world of the flesh and causing misery to the humans that she affects. This changes one day when she decides to stay and live as a human. This choice however, does not come without consequences. The book follows Kambirinachi through her youth, how she finds love, that then gives birth to her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye. The story progresses through her daughters stories and the traumas that tears them apart. Kehinde’s childhood trauma causes her distance herself and blames her sister resulting in her running off to Canada where she becomes an artist and meets her husband. Taiye also runs off but to England where she covers her guilt and loneliness in one-night stands and benders. Taiye finds some reprieve in cooking and eventually pursues a cooking certification in Halifax, Canada. Each member of the family is haunted by the past and they can’t avoid each other forever. After Taiye returns home to take care of her mother in Lagos, Kehinde returns for a visit so that her family can meet her new husband, each are eager but reluctant to reconcile.

This is one of the most beautiful and moving books I’ve read in the last few years and it reached me in ways I didn’t anticipate. It’s a story of forgiveness, friendship, love, and family that spans across three countries with a whimsical touch from the addition of Kambirinachi’s real self as an Ogbanje. I cried at the story’s climax and conclusion as the writing had me absolutely captivated and captured in this world and characters. I was more engaged with Taiye’s struggles that circle around her tumultuous and non-committal love life that allows her to neglect her own feeling of guilt. Taiye’s connections and struggles with others are immensely relatable and I found the tension between her and Kehinde familiar. There are also some amazing and intense sex scenes and scrumptious descriptions of traditional foods from Nigeria. This book really has something for everyone. I was absolutely transported with this book, in fact, I missed bus stops while reading this book I was so enthralled with it at times. The writing it concise and succinct and shows off the author’s talents as a storyteller, especially with a debut novel. I hope to see more from this author in the future.

Out of all the books I’ve read from the Canada Reads 2021 contenders this one is my favourite so far. It’s a gorgeous piece of literature with a phenomenal story and it best meets the theme of One Book To Transport Us out of the books that I’ve read. A strong contender for the winner likely to be one of my favourite reads of the year.