Kerri Cull: Summer Reads by Women Writers
Some rules were in order for this list. I decided to exclude any titles that have won big awards (yet) as well as anything by Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro.
Cloud of Bone by Bernice Morgan: Bernice Morgan, author of Random Passage and Waiting for Time, has crafted a startling and beautiful novel that shows the nature of human violence. Using Shawnadithit and WWII, Morgan’s story is entrenched in history, and the relationship she’s created to match is very intimate and perfectly drawn. It’s no surprise that Morgan is a master writer, as we’ve seen her work before, but this book is definitely my favorite of hers. It deserves to be read multiple times.
Mad Hope by Heather Birrell: Mad Hope is a collection of intricate stories with sometimes alarming subject matter. Birrell peels back the layers of a moment, a thing, a person, to reveal the essence of what's beneath. She has the skill of a seasoned writer and the voice of a modern one, the literary love child of Margaret Laurence and Douglas Coupland.
Bishop’s Road by Catherine Safer: One reason you must read this book is to meet one of the most memorable characters I’ve come across in recent years, Ginny Mustard. Ginny is a delinquent teen who tries to find her way through contemporary St. John’s after life has made her doubt herself and everyone around her. Made up of a handful of quirky female characters and the gritty downtown St. John’s life, Safer has created a purely enjoyable story that borders on magical.
Up Up Up by Julie Booker: This collection of short stories is one of my favorites and it is the perfect book to take on vacation. Intelligent and funny, and covering a whole host of different topics, Up Up Up is fun and light yet thought provoking and insightful.
Glass Boys by Nicole Lundrigan: Glass Boys is about a group of men whose lives intertwine in various unsettling ways and the result is a story of regret, abuse, rebirth and freedom that is undoubtedly Lundrigan’s best book to date. It’s a very serious read with some heavy subject matter which may not be your thing in the hot days of summer, but it’s just so damn good. You have to read it.
Arranged by Catherine McKenzie: This is the quintessential summer read all about love: finding it, hating it, loving it, missing it, wanting it, and everything in between. Fed up with being 30-something and still single, Anne Blythe sees her perfect brother all settled with a gorgeous family, and her best friend just engaged, so she accepts a sign that leads to an arranged marriage and the story unfolds from there with outbursts, twists, drunks and more. The result is a romantic, light-hearted tale about pursuing love, finding friendship and all the gorgeous messiness that comes with it.
Wrecked Upon This Shore by Kate Story: Wrecked Upon this Shore is about the desire we have to feel whole and to work through the unfairness of life by any means possible. It opens with Stephen on the last day of his mother’s life. Then through flashback, we see Stephen's life and learn more about his mother Pearl, her past and her wounds. The book is beautifully written with poetic language that twists and bends until the image is perfect. The characters are complex, honest and edgy and they tell a story about our need to be complete, and more importantly, the desire to understand each other in order to accept and love.
Tide Road by Valerie Compton: Valerie Compton’s Tide Road tells the story of a woman who tries to understand her daughter’s disappearance. While trying to figure out what happened, Sonia is forced to look at her own life and reconcile the problems of her past. Compton tells this story of powerlessness, guilt, and forgiveness with writing that is intimate, controlled and powerful. I look forward to her next novel.