Canada Reads 2018 – Favs and Predictions

Debates kick off next week. Have you read them all yet?

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:

Ali Hassan from CBC’s Laugh Out Loud will host for the second year in a row.

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.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce


4\5 stars.
Paperback, 384 pages.
Read from June 26 to July 07, 2015.

After two recommendations, despite my hesitations, I decided that I would give this novel a go. I admittedly judged this book by its cover. I thought that this book was just one of those sappy feel good novels that a middle-aged married woman would buy and read at her book clubs. While the ending has a happy moment, it isn’t completely uplifting, it is however satisfying. The majority of the novel is full of the tribulations of Harold and his wife Maureen making the plot and characters very intricate.

Harold, a recent retiree, receives a letter from an old co-worker, Queenie, that he hasn’t seen in over 20 years. The letter states that Queenie is dying of cancer. Harold, while out to deliver his reply to Queenie becomes inspired by an interaction he has with a young girl and decides to walk to the 600 miles across the country to see Queenie.  Convinced that his pilgrimage will save Queenie, Harold leaves on his journey immediately. He doesn’t have proper shoes, a cell phone or a map with him. He phones his wife, Maureen from a pay phone to inform her of his intentions. Maureen, is startled by his sudden choice to partake in this insane journey. Harold and Maureen’s life together has been far from ideal over the last few years and through this very random journey both Harold and Maureen start to analyze their average lives. Harold regrets not being a better father to their son David and wishes that he hadn’t lived his life so carefully, while Maureen starts to realize that she could have been a better wife to Harold in the last few recent years.  The two of them, though separate through Harold’s walk, take a journey of self-awareness, love and forgiveness.

What makes this book difficult to put down is just how human both Harold and Maureen are. They have both made such real and human mistakes. At first, you’re taken back the inability for this couple to communicate and how cold they can both be but as your learn more about each of their pasts and how they chose to handle certain situations you realize how each of them came to be as they are.  You don’t get the full story behind all of the characters until very end. The author, brilliantly, leaves a trail of breadcrumbs in terms of the character’s past that all comes together near the conclusion of the book.

This story is extremely heartwarming and I found Harold’s journey extremely enjoyable. I definitely found myself getting a little teary eyed near the end. I would recommend this book for those over the age of 25 as I don’t think a younger crowd would enjoy or connect with some of the turmoils that Harold and Maureen go through. Anyone in a committed relationship would also take enjoyment out of this novel.

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