Winner of the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, The Break is a stunning and heartbreaking debut novel about a multigenerational Métis–Anishnaabe family dealing with the fallout of a shocking crime in Winnipeg’s North End.
When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.
In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.
A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.
About the author
KATHERENA VERMETTE is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company), won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her National Film Board short documentary, this river, won the Coup de Coeur award at the Montreal First Peoples Festival and a Canadian Screen Award.
Her first novel, The Break, was a national bestseller and won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award; the Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature; and three Manitoba Book Awards. It was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and CBC’s Canada Reads. She is also the author of the children’s picture book series The Seven Teaching Stories and recently published the first book, Pemmican Wars, in the young adult book series A Girl Called Echo. Ms. Vermette’s second book of poetry, river woman, is forthcoming in the fall of 2018 from House of Anansi Press.
- Winner, Amazon.ca First Novel Award
- Short-listed, Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Literature
- Winner, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
- Winner, McNally Robinson Book of the Year
- Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
- Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award
- Short-listed, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Other titles by Katherena Vermette
Survival: Context and Compassion Through Grief
6 Brilliant Books About Mental Illness
Canadian YA for the Twitteratti
Writing Through Risk: Megan Gail Coles
Fiction for Senior Grades
Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools 2018/19
16 Books About Never Giving Up
Related blog posts
The Books Behind WORRY
Jessica Westhead recommends books that informed her work as she wrote her new novel, Worry.
Megan Gail Coles: Writing Through Risk
Books that challenge literary expectations and community norms while demanding artistic honesty and human compassion
Lesley Crewe: Books for Difficult Times and Ordinary Moments
Books whose presences are "reassuring, like having a lamp in the window."
Christine Higdon: Books That Take You on a Journey
The author of The Very Marrow Of Our Bones offers a spectacular list of recommended reads.
R.J. Harlick: More Than "Good Enough"
Canadian books stand up as some of the finest in the world.
Cara-Lyn Morgan's Essential Reads
"The following are books which, when I read them, made me feel less alone in this country, less unvoiced and less unseen."
Winning Books: Spring 2017
The job of celebrating Canadian books is never done—which is just the way we like it.
Andrea McPherson: Bad Mothers and Wives
Women who dare to defy society's expectations for them—for better or for worse.
2016: Our Books of the Year
21 reasons why 2016 was one for the books.