Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Literary

The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted

A Novel

by (author) Jennifer Manuel

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Literary, Supernatural, 21st Century
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Exploring the intricacies of power, culture and emotion when a non-Indigenous person moves to an Indigenous community as an educator, Jennifer Manuel casts a spell as captivating and perceptive as in her bestselling novel The Heaviness of Things That Float.

When new teacher Molleigh Royston moves to Tawakin—a remote Nuu-chah-nulth community in the Pacific Northwest—she arrives with good intentions. However, as she struggles to understand and help her students, doubts begin to accumulate—including doubts about her own motivations. Things escalate when three students start behaving strangely and Molleigh makes a serious cultural transgression, triggering a series of disturbing events in the village. Giant boulders are placed in front of Molleigh’s house, furniture moves mysteriously and flowers erupt in flame.

The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted is a captivating story about the complexity of hope and the limits of good intent, offering a grave look at how the education system fails remote Indigenous communities, leaving Indigenous students, with all their brilliance and resilience, in the hands of transient educators.

About the author

Jennifer Manuel has achieved acclaim for her short fiction, including the Storyteller's Award at the Surrey International Writer's Conference in 2013. She has also published short fiction in PRISM International, The Fiddlehead, Room Magazine and Little Fiction. Author Diana Gabaldon describes Manuel's writing as “astonishing in its intimacy, delicate complexity and sense of compassion.” A long-time activist in Aboriginal issues, Manuel taught elementary and high school in the lands of the Tahltan and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. She lives on Vancouver Island, BC.

Jennifer Manuel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“…A worthy companion [to The Heaviness of Things that Float] Manuel writes with an authority and authenticity borne out by her own experiences teaching elementary and high school in remote Indigenous communities. The doubt, fear, hope, and guilt that Molleigh feels are rendered without apology: here is a white woman battling her own biases and prejudices while trying to make sense of her new community and not overstep or underserve….Manuel is careful to balance this with flashes of joy, warmth, and humour. The author is also mindful of not appropriating stories that are not hers to tell, noting via the characters that there is great power in stories, and consequences for those who do not respect the principles and traditions that govern them. Instead, we are given the outsider’s view through a reconciliation lens that focuses attention on the lingering legacy of residential schools and cultural genocide without painting characters solely as victims. They have hope, love, community, and – despite the history of colonization that devastated their people – an open-heartedness that results in a healing journey for Molleigh that is redemptive and satisfying.”

Dory Cerny, <i>Quill and Quire</i>

“Jennifer Manuel’s latest novel needs to be widely read. Her story of cultural understanding shows the potency of hope in transforming lives. The reader will learn more about Indigenous worldviews and the power of human connection. This is a novel that is timely and deeply rewarding. Read this book!”

Dr. Linda Kaser, Network of Inquiry and Indigenous Education

“In The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted, Jennifer Manuel brings the reader into the longing, despair, humour, connectedness and wisdom of an Indigenous village through the eyes and ears of teacher Molleigh Royston. As Molleigh struggles to find her place and to make sense of the unusual occurrences in the village, I was on the edge of my seat rooting for her and for the children in her school. Ultimately this is a beautiful story of love, respect and hope.”

Dr. Judy Halbert, Networks of Inquiry and Indigenous Education

Other titles by

Related lists