We're so excited to help you line up your perfect summer reading list with these fantastic recommendations—and to also feature three copies of each book up for giveaway. (Watch out for Part Two coming in August.)
A Convergence of Solitudes, by Anita Anand
About the book: A story of identity, connection and forgiveness, A Convergence of Solitudes shares the lives of two families across Partition of India, Operation Babylift in Vietnam, and two referendums in Quebec.
Sunil and Hima, teenage lovers, bravely defy taboos in pre-Partition India to come together as their country divides in two. They move across the world to Montreal and raise a family, but Sunil shows symptoms of schizophrenia, shattering their newfound peace. As a teenager, their daughter Rani becomes obsessed with Quebecois supergroup Sensibilité—and, in particular, the band's charismatic, nationalistic frontman, Serge Giglio—whose music connects Rani to the province's struggle for cultural freedom. A chance encounter leads Rani to babysit Mélanie, Serge's adopted daughter from Vietnam, bringing her fleetingly within his inner circle.
Years later, Rani, now a college guidance counselor, discovers that Mélanie has booked an appointment to discuss her future at the school. Unmoved by her father's staunch patriotism and her British mother's bourgeois ways, Mélanie is struggling with deep uncertainty about her identity and belonging. As the two women's lives become more and more intertwined, Rani's fascination with Mélanie's father's music becomes a strange shadow amidst their friendship.
Nosy Parker, by Lesley Crewe
About the book: It's 1967 in Montreal, the Expo is in full swing, and Audrey Parker has just moved with her dad to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a whole new neighbourhood full of different kinds of people to spy on. Audrey is a lot of things: articulate, disarming, forthright. And, as her father reminds her often, indecently nosy.
Audrey scribbles every observation down in her notebooks—from which foods her new teacher eats for lunch, to how blue the water is in Greece, to what time the one-legged man across the street gets home. She is certain she will soon root out a murderer or uncover a mystery. But there's only one mystery that really matters to her: her mother. Who was she? How did she die? Why won't her father ever talk about her?
Over a year of Audrey's life, we bike with her through the streets of NDG, encountering stray animals, free-range kids, and adults both viciously cruel and wonderful. And we walk with Audrey across the threshold from childhood to adolescence, where she will discover the truth about her mother.
Balancing humour and sadness as expertly as ever, author Lesley Crewe—who has so often captured Cape Breton perfectly on the page—turns her incisive observations for the first time to the NDG of the 1960s, where she grew up.
The Wards, by Terry Doyle
About the book: The Wards are a working-class Newfoundland family on the cusp of upheaval. The children are becoming adults, the adults are growing old, and the new dog was probably stolen. When a sudden illness forces the Wards together, can they finally learn to be close-knit?
This unsettling, at times hilarious novel explores the instability of nuclear families and the depths of dysfunction.
Family is family—you don’t get to choose.
So what, exactly, do you get to choose?
Egg Island, by Sara Flemington
About the book: Two laconic teenage runaways plunge deep into backcountry, farther and farther away from civilization, searching for an extraordinary place that may or may not exist.
On the move for who knows how long, Julia, age unknown, walks into a gas station. There, the tall, ominous kid with a studded belt and crusty eyebrow ring who’s stocking the fridge stops his work and leads her out back to the restroom. What happens next is technically grand theft auto.
Egg Island is the peculiar and darkly humorous story of Julia: a runaway in search of the elusive locale known as Egg Island, a place where, she has been told, the sky breaks the exosphere and the path to a new home will be revealed. Julia’s journey is the story of the shy camaraderie between two bruised teens, stretching beyond roads, forests, and outer space, as they learn to reconcile their histories with the big, open future.
Lake Effect, by Dayle Furlong
About the book: This collection of stories charts the emotional lives of characters in the midst of private sorrows and triumphs. Each story, set in the cities and towns around the Great Lakes, reveals the author’s fierce love for a landscape merciless and opulent, yet speaks with eloquence about its inhabitants. The humanitarian crisis in Thunder Bay is seen from the perspective of a police officer whose stepson is missing; fearing he will be found, like so many others, in the McIntyre River, his mother’s grief causes an insurmountable rift. Crumbling buildings, high rent and condo developments in Toronto are playfully satirized. A young mother waits inside a Chicago-area prison to find out if funding for the Prison-Mother Baby program will continue. A man drives from Traverse City, Michigan in the midst of a lake effect storm to transport his Iranian-Canadian girlfriend across the border illegally. A Canadian mother befriends an American woman, employed at Target, whose desperation for a baby leads her to seek the advice of spiritualists in Lily Dale, New York. Topical and arresting, these tales showcase an author who writes with insight and sensitivity.
Shimmer, by Alex Pugsley
About the book: In ten vividly told stories, Shimmer follows characters through relationships, within social norms, and across boundaries of all kinds as they shimmer into and out of each other’s lives.
Outside a 7-Eleven, teen boys Veeper and Wendell try to decide what to do with their night, though the thought of the rest of their lives doesn’t seem to have occurred to them. In Laurel Canyon, two movie stars try to decide if the affair they’re having might mean they like each other. When Byron, trying to figure out the chords of a song he likes, posts a question on a guitar website, he ends up meeting Jessica as well, a woman with her own difficult music. And when the snide and sharp-tongued Twyla agrees to try therapy, not even she would have imagined the results.
The Island of Forgetting, by Jasmine Sealy
About the book: How does memory become myth? How do lies become family lore? How do we escape the trauma of the past when the truth has been forgotten?
Barbados, 1962. Lost soul Iapetus roams the island, scared and alone, driven mad after witnessing his father’s death at the hands of his mother and his older brother, Cronus. Just before Iapetus is lost forever, he has a son, but the baby is not enough to save him from himself—or his family’s secrets.
Seventeen years later, Iapetus’s son, the stoic Atlas, lives in a loveless house, under the care of his uncle, Cronus, and in the shadow of his charismatic cousin Z. Knowing little about the tragic circumstances of his father’s life, Atlas must choose between his desire to flee the island and his loyalty to the uncle who raised him.
Time passes. Atlas’s daughter, Calypso, is a beautiful and wilful teenager who is desperate to avoid being trapped in a life of drudgery at her uncle Z’s hotel. When she falls dangerously in love with a visiting real estate developer, she finds herself entangled in her uncle’s shady dealings, a pawn in the games of the powerful men around her.
It is now 2019. Calypso’s son, Nautilus, is on a path of self-destruction as he grapples with his fatherless condition, his mixed-race identity and his complicated feelings of attraction towards his best friend, Daniel. Then one night, after making an impulsive decision, Nautilus finds himself exiled to Canada.
The Island of Forgetting is an intimate saga spanning four generations of one family who run a beachfront hotel. Loosely inspired by Greek mythology, this is a novel about the echo of deep—and sometimes tragic—love and the ways a family’s past can haunt its future.
Mad Honey, by Katie Welch
About the book: When Beck Wise vanished his girlfriend Melissa poured herself into caring for the family farm, silently absorbing yet another man disappearing from her life. But when Beck reappears months later, thin, with memories of being part of a bee colony, a series of layered mysteries begin to unravel. Mad Honey immerses the reader in a search for truth bounded by the everyday magic of beekeeping, family and finding peace, while asking how much we really understand the natural world.
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