Here is who I think will win Canada Reads 2020 this year as well as some of my personal favourites.
The COVID-19 outbreak means that the Canada Reads debates this year are currently postponed until further notice so we all got a little extra time to read all five of finalists which, I definitely needed this year. Did you read them all?
Which one of these books will be crowned the winner? Which one will be the one book to bring Canada into focus? If you’re a follower of the debates you know that sometimes it’s not always the book you expect to win due to some outstanding debating.
Firstly, I’m going to rank the books by how much I personally enjoyed them and then I am going to predict which book I think might be the winner this year when the debates resume. I actually enjoyed all of these books so I found it challenging to rank them this year.
I think this novel will be everyone’s personal favourite out of the five. It’s a truly inspiring read about how one Canadian man overcame so many insurmountable circumstances. The novel is a moving and uplifting and I found it the most positive of the five contenders.
The only collaboration of short stories, this novel took an intriguing approach to a variety of societal issues. One story had a super hero twist while another a futuristic envisionment of the apocalypse. Each with well-developed and emotionally intriguing characters this novel is an approachable read with some serious content.
Being queer and muslim is not something a lot of places and people in the world are ready to accept, unfortunately, even in Canada. This memoir details the life and advocacy of one such queer muslim and how she aims to bring attention to the subject. The author’s story is moving and engaging and I enjoyed following her personal journey.
One the most profound books of the five and the best written, this novel has an enormous cast of characters that show you what it’s like growing up and living in Newfoundland when you’re a poor. While intriguing this book isn’t very uplifting and didn’t make for ideal self-isolation reading during the intense time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I may have ranked this book differently under different circumstances.
Son of Trickster is a YA novel that intermingles poetry and whimsical Native American stories while also drawing attention to some of the issues facing today’s Native American youth. I enjoyed this book for the most part but had to put it at the end of my list based on the other contenders this year. Its story just wasn’t as strong as the others.
I believe that this is the one book that will bring Canada into focus. It covers an array of pertinent topics and issues and in a manner that is approachable to any reader. The novel is succinct, entertaining, and thought provoking.
“Newfoundland where it is perpetually almost summer until it is almost winter again.”
ebook, 539 pages.
Read from February 28, 2020 to March 18, 2020
I’ve been a bad reader lately and have found myself behind on my books. I’ve finally finished what is number four out of five of the Canada Reads 2020 finalists. The debates themselves have been postponed so I have some time to catch up at least. Alayna Fender will be defending this novel when the debates resume.
Following a first-person narrative rotation of Newfoundland locals, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club highlights what it’s like to work and live within the small province. Needless to say, it doesn’t paint a happy picture. All the characters know each other and the quick-paced narrative jumps from one character to another while depicting intimate scenes from all their unique perspectives. To highlight a few of the characters: Iris, a self-sabotaging waitress, loves John but he is married. John works with Iris and thinks only of himself and won’t end their affair despite the pending consequences and damage its causing Iris. Georgina is married to John, she was looking for something completely different after the heartbreak of her last partner. Olive is Iris’ roommate who is barely holding on after experiencing severe sexual trauma. Damien, who also works with Iris and John, is suffering from a broken heart after Tom left him and can’t stop drinking and doing drugs. Each character is bound with these similarities, that they grew up in poverty in a small and socially confined bay of Newfoundland.
“No one says it is okay to feel hurt. No one says anything. Everyone just goes on living. We all go on living until we lose more of each other. And then we are made lesser.”
I have to say, I think the current atmosphere has affected my feelings on this novel. The characters are great and so is the writing but it isn’t what you’d call a happy story. In fact, it’s very dreary and the world feels a bit too dreary right now due to the Covid-19 virus. I’m sure that this has played a factor into me not rating this novel higher as I did really appreciate the writing style and concept. This book also isn’t for everyone. The characters ooze with inescapable sadness and desperation. There are also many triggers for those that have suffered from sexual assault within the book. While it’s brought about tastefully and while highlighting the culture that perpetuates it, the content is still graphic. Interestingly, the author highlights both sides of the one major assault that takes place in the novel.
What I liked the most about this novel was how nicely it laid out some of the aspects of rape culture and the thought process behind it. The inner worthlessness and lack of control felt by the female characters and the confusion of the male characters who in the patriarchial workings of entitlement, poverty, and suffering in a small town were never taught to understand or empathise. What’s more, is that I could relate to some of the inner conversations that some of the female characters had with themselves with the endless people-pleasing and being trapped in that cycle of never feeling good enough constantly weighing them down.
I do wish I had read this book at a different time but who is to say that my rating of the book would change. Is this the one book to bring Canada into focus? Perhaps. It gives a voice to those that struggle to live out in the beautiful East coast. It’s not easy to make a living out there. The book also discusses rape culture, drug and alcohol abuse, and the treatment of people who are of mixed ethnicities, all of which are prevalent issues facing Canadians. We will have to see how this one stands up in the debates.
The shortlist is finally here! For four days in March, these contenders will debate their book to see which one best meets the theme: One book to bring Canada into focus. Annnd without further ado, here they are!