The Week in Books #28

Wooo I’ve been reading lots but have fallen behind on my Week in Books posts and now there is a backlog. Im a little surprised I have been able to read so much! I’ll try to get through them all this week.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter. This is a popular Canadian book that was a finalist for several different awards when it was released. It tells the story of an intersex baby born in 1960’s Labrador. I’m glad I read this finally, but wasn’t really blown away by the characters or writing. The description of the book says that the three adults who knew of the baby’s “secret” at birth decided together to raise the baby as a boy, which is a little misleading. SPOILER What actually happens is the father instructs the mother to take the baby for a surgery to eliminate the female genitalia and raise them as a boy. It’s difficult to think about these choices being made on behalf of someone without their consent and in line with a culture that isn’t comfortable with gender ambiguity. This was an emotional story that I felt makes a strong case for resisting surgical alteration of babies until they are an age to decide for themselves. Chock full of good Canadiana as well.

The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey. I got a copy of this at GIRO for 50 cents because I liked the cover photo and synopsis of an edgy teen girl coming of age story. It’s also by a local author which I like about it. The writing was poetic and pretty while telling the story of a girl submerged in a world of prostitutes and drugs. Overall not much about it has stayed in my mind. It’s similar to Pretty Little Dirty by Amanda Boyden and Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neil and I’m having a hard time separating them in my memory. I’m always happy to take a chance on local writers that I find second hand and wouldn’t otherwise have heard of. Not related to the book itself but I also found a bookmark in the pages that is by far my most favourite bookmark now. Score!

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. I adored the concept of this book, though some bits of it kinda irked me. The characters are referred to with nicknames during their POV chapter, but by name when referred to by another character’s POV which is such a small thing but made me really have to focus on who everyone was. The story revolves around the intersecting lives of 4 women; Mattie, a pregnant teenager, Ro, her teacher, Susan, a housewife stuck in a dull marriage, and Gin, a healer living in the woods. Eivør is a long-dead explorer that is also sort of a part of it with her POV written by Ro as a book she is working on, though honestly I could have done without this element as I didn’t think it contributed much. The women live in a dystopian but entirely plausible world where abortion is banned and adoption by non-married couples is outlawed. This book is being hailed by some feminists as a contemporary follow up to Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood though I wouldn’t go that far. It shows how women would struggle with reproductive rights in a world without abortion but didn’t make any huge revelations to me. Still it was entirely realistic and paints a scary picture of what our world could be with women stripped of their autonomy when it comes to pregnancy and birth. A good read none-the-less!

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