Catherine, an archivist, has spent decades committed to conserving the pasts of others, only to find her own resurfacing on the eve of her retirement. Carefully, she mines the failing memories of her aging mother to revive a mysterious Uncle and relive the tragic downfall of her brother. Catherine remembers, and in the process, discovers darker family secrets, long silenced, and their devastating aftermath. Spanning decades between rural Alberta and Winnipeg, All That Belongs is an elegant examination of our own ephemeral histories, the consequences of religious fanaticism, and the startling familial ties—and shame—that bind us.
Dora Dueck is an award winning author (she won High Plains Award for Short Stories, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year award, and was also shortlisted twice for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and the Carol Shields City of Winnipeg Book Award).
She has established followings in the prairie provinces and west coast as a well-known and highly regarded Mennonite writer.
All That Belongs will speak to to those with an interest Mennonite history/heritage, woman's literature, coming of age stories (both in terms of traditional lens and Baby Boomer transitions), and will also speak to those with an interest in genealogies and family histories.
The content is topical, as it explores issues of trauma and its heredity qualities (scientific research breaking ground in this area in recent years), as well as mental health issues and its traditional stigmas.
Most of the discoveries Catherine makes on her pilgrimage confirm what she has already known or always remembered. Still, she uncovers a few surprises and, in doing so, is finally able to properly grieve her brother and better understand her uncle’s religious fanaticism, bizarre behaviour and also his basic goodness.
There is not a lot of excitement or poignancy in these discoveries, but that does not diminish the pleasure or potency inherent in this lovely novel. It is, after all, much more than a story about digging up and coming to terms with one’s past, and even more than a story about the lingering effects of trauma and pain, and grief and guilt.
After a stranger playfully suggests that she might have “a little embarrassment” in her family tree, retiring archivist Catherine Riediger embarks on an initially reluctant journey into her family’s history. The result is a gentle but compelling meditation on love, aging, the nature of memory and the need to acknowledge and forgive the pain of the past.
—K.D. Miller, author of Late Breaking
All That Belongs is a lyrical, keenly-observed study of the strange and difficult beauties of family life. Dueck's writing captures the crackle and hiss of submerged memories and mysterious loyalties. This is a moving story, flavoured with delicacy and integrity.
-Sue Sorensen, author of A Large Harmonium
Catherine, the narrator in All That Belongs, is an archivist who, curiously, has waited until retirement to explore her own genealogy in search of answers to questions that have haunted her since childhood. Dora Dueck weaves an eccentric tapestry of present and past from the uncomfortably scratchy fabric of family secrets and lies. Her characters are complex: loving, vulnerable, ashamed, frightened, always drawn with compassion, but even in sorrow and grief never descending to the sentimental. In each of our lives there are those who remain puzzles. Dora Dueck offers insight that goes far beyond archives.
-Betty Jane Hegerat author of The Boy