The Week in Books #86

4/14 ✅

The week in books! Another week, another few books knocked off this stack. It was a tough one with my daughter being sick but I made it through some good ones.

1. Educated by Tara Westover. This is a pretty wild memoir from (former?) Mormon Tara Westover about her coming of age in an off-grid home with a deeply religious father and abusive brother. Apparently everyone has already read this one so I won’t get into the details but I found it pretty insane that social services was not involved at any point during the upbringing of these kids, especially with the negligent and dangerous parenting of Tara’s father and passivity on the part of her Mom. But I suppose avoiding any kind of government intervention was her father’s style. Tara overcame great obstacles to become a very well educated woman which is obviously very impressive.

Tara Westover was seventeen when she first set foot in a classroom. Instead of traditional lessons, she grew up learning how to stew herbs into medicine, scavenging in the family scrap yard and helping her family prepare for the apocalypse. She had no birth certificate and no medical records and had never been enrolled in school.

Westover’s mother proved a marvel at concocting folk remedies for many ailments. As Tara developed her own coping mechanisms, little by little, she started to realize that what her family was offering didn’t have to be her only education. Her first day of university was her first day in school—ever—and she would eventually win an esteemed fellowship from Cambridge and graduate with a PhD in intellectual history and political thought.

Amazon.ca

2. Satellite Love by Genki Ferguson. I picked up this book shortly after it was released in one of the free libraries on the island and was very excited to find something so new and intriguing. It is a quick novel about a girl who is in love with the spirit/essence of a satellite, one that I interpreted as an imaginary friend she created due to her loneliness and alienation from her peers at school. Very imaginative and unique. And WEIRD. Just how I like it!

Set in 1999 Japan, Satellite Love is a heartbreaking and beautifully unconventional debut novel about a girl, a boy, and a satellite–and a bittersweet meditation on loneliness, alienation, and what it means to be human. Named a CBC Books Spring Reading List Title, a Shelf Life Books Book of the Month, a Toronto Life and Nikkei Voicesummer read recommendation, and one of Daily Hive’s 10 Essential Reads to Celebrate Asian Canadian Writers.

On the eve of the new millennium, in a city in southern Japan that progress has forgotten, sixteen-year-old Anna Obata looks to the stars for solace. An outcast at school, and left to fend for herself and care for her increasingly senile grandfather at home, Anna copes with her loneliness by searching the night sky for answers. But everything changes the evening the Low Earth Orbit satellite (LEO for short) returns her gaze and sees her as no one else has before.

After Leo is called down to Earth, he embarks on an extraordinary journey to understand his own humanity as well as the fragile mind of the young woman who called him into being. As Anna withdraws further into her own mysterious plans, he will be forced to question the limits of his devotion and the lengths he will go to protect her.

Full of surprising imaginative leaps and yet grounded by a profound understanding of the human heart, Satellite Love is a brilliant and deeply moving meditation on loneliness, faith, and the yearning for meaning and connection. It is an unforgettable story about the indomitable power of the imagination and the mind’s ability to heal itself, no matter the cost, no matter the odds.

Penguin Randomhouse

3. From Where I Stand by Jody Wilson-Raybould. This is a collection of Jody’s speeches over the years including several during her time as Minister of Justice and Attorney General (2015–2019) and a couple at the end that followed her leaving the Liberal Party due to the SNC-Lavalin Affair. Jody, being an Indigenous woman, has some very clear and well-formed ideas on how Canada can achieve true reconciliation with First Nations communities and strengthen nation-to-nation relationships. There is a fair bit of repetition about the importance of moving out from under the Indian Act, staying true to Section 35 of the Constitution Act (Section 35 of the Constitution Act states: 35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed. (2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada), allowing First Nations communities to self-govern, implementing changes in alignment with The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and respecting Indigenous land rights.

The speeches start out very optimistic of the Liberal government and Trudeau’s commitment to reconciliation, but if we look at the track record at this point it becomes clear that Trudeau has fallen far short of his goal of true reconciliation with Native communities (something I gather Jody speaks about more in her newest book, Indian in the Cabinet) He has taken Native children to court (The Liberal government is appealing a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering Ottawa to pay $40,000 each to some 50,000 First Nations children separated from their families by a chronically underfunded child-welfare system, article here), been unable to make any real progress on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG, article here), lacks commitment on the 94 calls to action set forth in the Truth and Reconciliation Report (article here), betrayed Indigenous communities by approving pipelines through unceded territory (article here), and failed to deliver clean drinking water to remote Indigenous communities (article here). If you are not yet aware of all these Indigenous issues in Canada, this book is a good place to start, along with 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act.

An Indigenous leader who has dedicated her life to Indigenous Rights, Jody Wilson-Raybould has represented both First Nations and the Crown at the highest levels. And she is not afraid to give Canadians what they need most – straight talk on how to deconstruct Canada’s dark colonial legacy and embrace a new era of recognition and reconciliation.

In this powerful book, drawn from Wilson-Raybould’s speeches and other writings, she urges all Canadians – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – to build upon the momentum already gained in the reconciliation process or risk hard-won progress being lost. The choice is stark: support Indigenous-led initiatives for Nation rebuilding or continue to allow governments to just “manage the problem.” She also argues that true reconciliation will never occur unless governments transcend barriers enshrined in the Indian Act that continue to deny Indigenous Peoples their rights. Until then, we’ll be stuck in the status quo – mired in conflicts and court cases that do nothing to improve people’s lives or heal the country.

The good news is that Indigenous Nations already have the solutions. But now is the time to act and build a shared postcolonial future based on the foundations of trust, cooperation, recognition, and good governance. Frank and impassioned, this book charts a course forward – one that will not only empower Indigenous Peoples but strengthen the well-being of Canada and all Canadians.

From Where I Stand is indispensable reading for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the reconciliation process to know what they can do to make a difference — ranging from engaged citizens, leaders, and policy-makers to students, educators, and academics, and to lawyers and consultants.

UBC Press
New stack to add to the gajillion books currently waiting to be read haha

2 comments

  1. I greatly admire and agree with Jody Wilson-Raybould’s very refreshing public rejection of unethical government interference; however, I’m still bewildered by her apparent shock at the practice, including Justin Trudeau’s personal attempt at pressuring her to compromise her integrity as then justice minister. Her book could have explained this to readers/people as curious as I.

    Sadly, we are governed by a system in which corporate lobbyists heavily manipulate even our top elected officials. (Albeit, some elected heads will be better at concealment via their habitual general practice of secrecy with the news-media.) Lobbyists will even write bills for our governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, supposedly to save the elected officials their own time.

    In the case of the Trudeau Liberals, they, like the Conservatives when in power, pander to corporate objectives, and the very wealthy, albeit the Liberals maintain their traditional liberal social policies (notably those involving race, gender and sexuality). Apparently, politically potent and focused big business interests get catered-to regardless of which of these two parties rules. It seems they can’t really lose, at least as long as the NDP stays out of high office. I’d have figured the very intelligent and well-educated Wilson-Raybould, and others like her, would have known this long before running for office. One wonders how many other governing politicians got elected without being aware?

    Perhaps anyone wanting to run for office should have to first pass a post-secondary political science course that teaches this in length and detail. Therefore they cannot claim innocent ignorance if ever, unlike Wilson-Raybould, getting caught making the ethically wrong decision.

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