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2019 Evergreen Award Nominees

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Part of the OLA Forest of Reading, the Evergreen Award is designed for adults of any age and the lists are comprised of Canadian fiction and non-fiction titles. Adult library patrons have the opportunity to explore these books by themselves, through their public library or just in a book club format. A group of experienced library staff have come together to share their favourite reading with adult readers.
All Things Consoled

All Things Consoled

A daughter's memoir
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

From Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada's beloved novelists, comes a startling and beautiful memoir about the drama of her parents' end, and the longer drama of being their daughter. Winner of the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonficiton.

Jean and Gordon Hay were a colourful, formidable pair. Jean, a late-blooming artist with a marvellous sense of humour, was superlatively frugal; nothing got wasted, not even maggoty soup. Gordon was a proud and ambitious schoolteacher with a terrifying …

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Excerpt

     My mother came home the next day. The residence doctor dropped by in the afternoon, sturdy, energetic, reassuring. We had learned he was from Aberdeen, a fact that only endeared him further to my parents, for the Hays traced their origins back to the same part of Scotland. My mother greeted him cheerfully, and he said, “So you’ve come back.”
     She had. She had come back to us.
     Then once again, around the middle of March, she lost her words and twenty-four hours later showed no signs of recovering them. “I’m thinking—throne—thinking—th.” Starting on a word with an opening sound like “th,” she could not escape it, any more than a month earlier she had been able to escape “window—whether.”
     After I got her lying down, I went into the living room to talk to Dad, who was staring out one of the windows that overlooked the road and the canal beyond. Without turning, he said, “I don’t think she’s suffering, she’s just lost.” He choked up, as he did so very easily, before going on. “We just have to hope, or maybe hope is the wrong word. If she doesn’t make it, maybe it’s for the best.”
     The next day, “It’s snowing snowing snowing snowing,” she said, as we sat on a bench in the glowing sunshine.
     Certain words were no problem for her: yes, okay, right, super, thank you, well, son of a gun, really. Over the telephone, I told Sochi about the automatic responses that still issued loud and clear from her grandmother. Sochi laughed and remarked that they were all affirmatives; someone else’s might have been shit, goddammit and fuck. My mother’s “son of a gun” was as close as she came to an expletive and it was always said with good humour.
     Then the next morning, when I walked out of the late-winter sunshine into their living room, exclaiming what a beautiful day it was, my mother stopped me in my tracks by replying from the chesterfield, “Yes, it is a beautiful day.”
     Lazarus was back from the land of the mute. Open in her lap was the book I had brought to them several days before about Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition, and now she said how interesting she thought it was. Sitting beside her, washed over by relief and excitement, I flipped to the page with the photograph of ice flowers, delicate white rosettes blanketing the surface of newly frozen sea water on February 16th, 1915—four years before she and my father were born. I told her about seeing them in patches on the canal last winter and on a pond at the arboretum. And we made conversation. “Your words have come back!” She nodded and smiled and talked, and everything she said made sense.
     But Dad was less excited by her recovery than he was upset with her for having wet the bed. “And who is going to wash the sheets?” he wanted to know. I asked him what happened to the diaper I had helped her into before leaving the night before. Well, in getting her into her nightgown, he had taken it off. Then immediately on the offensive again, he lit into me about her bone-strengthening medication. Had she had it or not?
     “A nurse is supposed to give it to her early Sunday morning,” I said, “which is today.”
     “You haven’t answered my question!” he thundered, only to back off a heartbeat later. “All right,” he admitted. “Somebody came in and gave it to her.” Only to blast me again, “But then she fell asleep! She’s not supposed to fall asleep after she gets it!”
     He took things hard and he made them harder. There would come a day when he declared that the nursing care in this place wasn’t “worth coon shit.”
     I liked “coon shit.” Never in a million years would I have imagined those words coming out of his mouth. We went down for coffee, and then Mom and I went outside into the open air and abundant sunshine while he remained behind in the library reading Maclean’s.
     In the flooding light we walked to the corner. “Did you have wrens nesting in the garden in London last spring?” I asked her.
     “I am forced to confess that I do not remember,” she said, speaking in her old formal way. Her teachers at Renfrew Collegiate had been sticklers for grammar and well-formed sentences, and my mother had been an excellent student.
     “What was it like for you, the last couple of days, when you couldn’t find your words?”
     “It was unsettling. But it’s been unsettling for a while.”
     We walked on. I asked her what she was thinking about.
     “I’m thinking about what the future holds.”
     “Are you worried about that?”
     She said something vague about no one knowing what the future holds, or perhaps I said that.
     I had pulled from the wastebasket in their rooms another of her efforts at a letter, one she had been working on somedays before, wanting it, she said, to be “a reasonable letter from a reasonable person.” She intended to have it do yeoman’s service for all of the friends she hadn’t yet written to.

There must be a way in the English Landwich to say to
your English speaking friends a great deal more emphatic?
I’ve tried many ways but the best I’ve managed is

Thank you so very much from all of us
The Hays

     Around this time, I remember her taking several bananas—the three on the counter and the one from inside their little fridge—and lining them up on the seat of her walker, then pushing her walker into the living room. I didn’t follow for a moment, washing dishes in their kitchenette. Then when I went into the living room, the bananas were nowhere in sight. “Where are they, Mom? Dad, did you see what Mom did with the bananas?”
     “Sure I did.”
     “Where are they?” Looking around.
     “Well, just don’t sit on the chesterfield,” he said.
     I checked under the cushions and there they were: fourbananas lined up in a row.

They reminded me of characters out of Beckett. A pair of solitaries who had always headed out to the studio, in my mother’s case, or downstairs to his study, in my father’s (each to his own lair) were now sharing two rooms. They were like the aged parents trapped in dustbins in Endgame. Like Laurel and Hardy in another fine mess. Or like old Joshua Smallweed in Bleak House throwing cushions at his imbecile wife.
     “Oh the weather,” my mother said to me, “the weather now is the pits of wet roses.” She had been reading in the newspaper, she said, about a woman in her thirties “who came down under the overburden of blankets and probably isn’t going to live.”
     Her turns of phrase rather confirmed my view that poetry issues from the holes in our head, that whatever faculty produces the startling contractions and coinages and leaps in logic that we call poetry is also available on an unconscious and uncontrollable level to someone suffering dementia. One morning on the telephone, ever solicitous about my sleep, she asked, “How did you severe the night?” Blending the words “fare,” “survive” and “persevere” so deftly that a lifetime of labour in the sleep mines got summoned up and summed up. “Dad’s behind a shave,” she added, “but I think he’ll come to the phone.”
     Later, when I went over to see them, “Do you know what I had for breakfast?” she said to me.
     “What?”
     She leaned forward. “Too much.”
     But that was her sense of humour. Like her abundant hair, it was her lasting glory.

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Foe

Foe

edition:Paperback

A taut, philosophical mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.
Junior and Hen are a quiet married couple. They live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with surprising news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements ha …

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French Exit

French Exit

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Finalist, Scotiabank Giller Prize
Finalist, Oregon Book Awards: Ken Kesey Award for Fiction
Finalist, Forest of Reading Evergreen Award
Longlist, International Dublin Literary Award
International Bestseller
A Globe and Mail Book of the Year
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
A Chatelaine Book of the Year
A Now Magazine Book of the Year
An Amazon.com Best Book of the Month
A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
A Book of the Year
Frances Price — tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper …

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Hysteria

Hysteria

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback

One of The Globe and Mail’s “Favourite Books of the Year”

The closer she gets to the truth, the faster it slips away.

In the spring of 1945, fifteen year-old Heike circles in the mountains high above Switzerland. Pushed out the door by a worried mother, Heike and her little sister, Lena, have escaped Dresden only days ahead of the firebombs that will destroy that city, to cross a war-torn Germany on their own. But now, Lena is lost and Heike is alone, stalked by a feral dog.

Eleven years late …

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I'm Afraid of Men

I'm Afraid of Men

edition:Hardcover

Named a Best Book by: The Globe and Mail, Indigo, Out Magazine, Audible, CBC, Apple, Quill & Quire, Kirkus Reviews, Brooklyn Public Library, Writers’ Trust of Canada, Autostraddle, Bitch, and BookRiot.
Finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award, Transgender Nonfiction
Nominated for the 2019 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award
Winner of the 2018  Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design – Prose Non-Fiction
"Cultural rocket fuel." --Vanity Fair
"Emotional and painful but also layere …

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Excerpt

I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me fear.

I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the word girl by turning it into a weapon they used to hurt me. I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me to hate and eventually destroy my femininity. I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the extraordinary parts of myself.

My fear was so acute that it took almost two decades to undo the damage of rejecting my femininity, to salvage and reclaim my girlhood. Even now, after coming out as a trans girl, I am more afraid than ever. This fear governs many of the choices I make, from the beginning of my day to the end.

In the morning, as I get ready for work, I avoid choosing clothes or accessories that will highlight my femininity and draw unwanted attention. On the hierarchy of harassment, staring is the least violent consequence for my gender nonconformity that I could hope for. And yet the experience of repeatedly being stared at has slowly mutated me into an alien.

If I decide to wear tight pants, I walk quickly to my bus stop to avoid being seen by the construction workers outside my building, who might shout at me as they have on other mornings.

When I’m on a packed bus or streetcar, I avoid making eye contact with men, so that no man will think I might be attracted to him and won’t be able to resist the urge to act upon this attraction. I squeeze my shoulders inward if a man sits next to me, so that I don’t accidentally touch him.

If I open Twitter or Facebook on the way to work, I brace myself for news reports of violence against women and gender-nonconforming people, whether it’s a story about another trans woman of colour who has been murdered, or the missing and murdered Indigenous women, or sexual assault. As important as it is to make these incidents visible by reporting them, sensationalizing and digesting these stories is also a form of social control, a reminder that I need to be afraid and to try to be as invisible as possible.

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The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback
tagged : literary

“An ambitious and dynamic portrayal of the harm humans—even young girls—can do.” Kirkus Reviews

A gripping, evocative novel about a group of young girls at a remote camp—and the night that will shape their lives for decades to come

A group of young girls descends on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets and camp songs by the fire. Bursting with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on …

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Moon of the Crusted Snow

Moon of the Crusted Snow

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Audiobook

 

National Bestseller

Winner of the 2019 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award

Shortlisted for the 2019/20 First Nation Communities READ Indigenous Literature Award

2020 Burlington Library Selection; 2020 Hamilton Reads One Book One Community Selection; 2020 Region of Waterloo One Book One Community Selection; 2019 Ontario Library Association Ontario Together We Read Program Selection; 2019 Women’s National Book Association’s Great Group Re …

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Excerpt

 

Five

 

Three hard knocks woke Nicole and Evan. She groaned, and he turned over as three more thuds vibrated through the house. “What the hell is that?” she mumbled.

 

Evan groaned. “I’ll go check.”

 

He got out of bed in his T-shirt and boxer shorts in the grey predawn light.

 

At the door, he recognized the familiar silhouette of Isaiah, who smiled mischievously at Evan’s sleep-rumpled state and walked in.

 

“I woulda said whatever happened to calling,” Evan grumbled, “but I remembered the phones are out.”

 

“Yeah, all moccasin telegraph all the time these days,” Isaiah replied. Evan was already tired of this joke. Izzy fell into the armchair beside the door without taking off his heavy red parka, grey toque, or boots.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Terry wants everyone in public works over at the band office right away. He pounded at my door just about fifteen minutes ago. My job was to round you up.”

 

“It’s Saturday, damn it!”

 

“Yeah, well, he says it’s an emergency. He’s talking about firing up the generator. No one knows what’s going on with the hydro.”

 

The chief calling an emergency meeting on a Saturday morning was serious. Evan snapped awake. “Alright, lemme go get dressed,” he said. “What’s it like outside?”

 

“Gettin’ colder.”

 

“Shit.”

 

Evan quickly returned to the bedroom, where Nicole lay awake in the warm, uneasy darkness. “What’s Izzy want?”

 

“Gotta go to work,” he replied, as he picked up the jeans from the floor and pulled them on.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Not totally sure, but Izzy says Terry wants everyone in public works over at the shop. Guess he wants to turn the generator on.”

 

“That’s good. The food in the fridge might start to go bad without the power.”

 

“Yeah, and it’d be good to put the kids in front of a movie for a break,” he said with a laugh.

 

He leaned in to kiss his partner and walked back to the front door, where his outside clothes hung on the hook.

 

Once he was dressed, Evan and Isaiah stepped outside into the cold. A faint pink glow in the east hinted at the sunrise. I guess it’s not that early, Evan thought.

 

They climbed into Isaiah’s idling truck, and Evan appreciated the warmth of the cab. Isaiah turned up the country music on his truck’s stereo and backed out onto the road.

 

“First you wake me up to work on a Saturday, then you make me listen to this shit?” Evan said.

 

“Shut the hell up,” his friend shot back. “This music is about real pain and struggle. It’s our people’s music.”

 

Evan rolled his eyes and looked out the window, willing to let the music be a distraction from his worries. He loved his friend like a brother. They’d been through almost everything together — hunts, hardships, and heartaches — but he couldn’t stand Isaiah’s taste in music.

 

Each house the truck passed was dark. There wouldn’t be much activity in these homes this early on a Saturday anyway, but every unlit window was hard to ignore.

 

As the late fall sun began to peek over the horizon, its low angle cast tiny shadows behind the bigger chunks of gravel spread across the route. The shallow streams in the deep ditches on either side were frozen solid.

 

The truck rolled through the village to the outskirts on the other side of town. Black spruce trees closed in around them as they approached the generating station by the shop. The reverberating echo of a slide guitar faded slowly as Isaiah lined his truck up with the six other pickup trucks in front of the high brick building. He smiled as he parked, no doubt amused that he had made Evan endure another country song.

 

Terry Meegis, the chief, stood near the green front door with Evan’s father, having a smoke. Evan wasn’t surprised to see Dan there. He was head of the band’s public works department and would be instrumental in any decisions that needed to be made.

 

Evan and Isaiah got out of the truck and approached the two older men. The huge white diesel tanks that loomed over the shop were stained a deep orange by the rising sun. The sky above was brightening into a more comforting azure.

 

“Mino gizheb niniwag. Aaniish na?” said Terry.

 

“Morning,” they replied. Evan noticed dark circles under Terry’s eyes. He was only a couple of years older than Dan, but it was obvious that he wasn’t getting much sleep recently. The chief took a drag from his cigarette and ran a hand through his coarse hair. His short hairstyle caused his wiry hair to puff out around his ears and he looked just as he had for as long as Evan could remember, a reassuring constant in band life.

 

The chief wasted no time. “We don’t know what’s going on with the power. Or the cellphones or the TV.” He looked at the two young men. Dan had already been briefed, so he stood slightly out of the circle, looking to the sunrise.

 

“We have no communication with anyone from Hydro,” he continued. “The satellite phone’s not working, and we can’t pick up anything on the other end of the old shortwave radio. Before people start getting worried or acting crazy, we’re gonna fire up the generators. We’ll at least be able to hold them over through the weekend and into next week if we need to.”

 

Evan and Isaiah nodded, then looked at each other cautiously. Terry noticed. “Don’t shit your pants,” he said. “We’ve dealt with this before. These things go out all the time. It’s just been a while since all of them were down at the same time. We’ll get the lights on for the weekend and regroup Monday.”

 

Then Dan took over. “Tyler, JC, and a couple of the other boys are in there right now,” he said, gesturing over his shoulder into the building. “They’re getting the generators ready to fire up. We were scheduled to test them next week anyways. This is a good chance to do a run-through.”

 

Evan breathed out in relief, a bit embarrassed he’d been so worried.

 

“Joanne is down at the band office getting ready to print off notices,” Terry continued. Tyler’s mom was one of the band administrators. In a small community, family members worked together all the time. Terry and Dan had been friends since childhood, and JC Meegis, who was inside running tests, was Terry’s son.

 

“We’re going to tell people that we’ve turned the generators on so no one’s food goes bad and so they can get their houses warm. If the power doesn’t come back over the weekend, we’re gonna have a community meeting Monday afternoon at the band office. I brought you guys here because I thought we needed more maintenance done inside before these machines fire up. But it looks like it’s under control.”

 

The loud cranking of an engine echoed off the walls of the shop and one of the generators roared into operation.

 

“So we just need you two to deliver the flyers,” said Terry.

 

“Fuck, really?” said Isaiah.

 

“What’s your problem?”

 

“I don’t wanna go door to door on a Saturday morning.”

 

“You just have to drop them off, dumbass. The power’s gonna be on, so it’s not like anyone will be demanding answers from you.”

 

Evan chuckled.

 

“What’s so funny, Tweedle Dum?” prodded the chief.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Okay then, get your asses to work! We’ll update you later.”

 

Evan looked at his father, and Dan gave him an easy smile back.

 

The sun was up and shining through the dust on the windshield as they drove back east into the heart of the community to pick up the notices from the band office. Songs of heartache and liquor blared again inside the cab. The fingers of Isaiah’s left hand were curling into different positions as it rested on the steering wheel.

 

“Don’t tell me you’re actually learning this shit?”

 

“Huh?” Isaiah looked to Evan then down at his fingers, positioned in a C chord on an air guitar. “Oh, yeah, I was just playing along in my mind.”

 

“What happened to your taste, man? You used to play the good stuff.” Evan shook his head.

 

Isaiah sang along in a nasally twang, as Evan sat back and thought fondly of the heavy metal they’d listened to as teens.

 

They rolled to a stop in front of the green single-storey building that housed the band office, the school, and the health centre. Evan stepped out of the truck to run in and get the flyers. He pulled the glass front doors open to find Joanne Birch waiting for him at her desk.

 

“Hold on, just printing them off now,” she said, without looking up from the computer screen. “I guess everything’s working up there?” Her brown hair fell in two tight braids that draped over her black hoodie emblazoned with the rez logo — an outline of three spruce trees on the white, yellow, red, and black background of the four directions circle.

 

“Seems to be,” he replied. “Everything here working?”

 

“The computer and the lights are on. All systems go, I guess.”

 

“When’s the last time the lights were on in here on a Saturday?”

 

“Beats me, I ain’t never worked on a Saturday. It’s the band office!”

 

They chortled and Evan gazed out over the spacious lobby as he waited. Its walls were lined with local art and a birchbark canoe hung from the beams below the skylight.

 

“You guys staying warm at home?” Evan asked.

 

“Yeah, Tyler had the furnace going pretty good. Didn’t even notice the power was off until it was time to make breakfast yesterday.” Tyler, who worked with Evan and Isaiah, was a few years younger than they and still lived at home.

 

“Right on. I slacked and let ours burn out.”

 

“What kinda Nishnaab are you?”

 

“I know. The kids didn’t seem to mind though.”

 

“Well, good thing you can at least put some videos on the TV now. I bet their patience is wearing thin. You’re lucky you got a good kwe at home to raise them right.”

 

Evan nodded. His heart fluttered.

 

Joanne rolled over to the printer, then back over to him, and handed over the stack of sheets. “Alright, here ya go. Have fun!”

 

As he stepped outside, Evan looked down at the flyer he was to distribute.

NOTICE

COMMUNITY-WIDE POWER OUTAGE

EMERGENCY POWER GENERATION IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

PLEASE CONSERVE ENERGY WHERE POSSIBLE

USE WOOD STOVES AND FURNACES AS PRIMARY HEAT SOURCES

SAFELY STORE FOOD

NEXT UPDATE MONDAY

HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND

MIIGWECH,

CHIEF AND COUNCIL

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The Return of Kid Cooper

The Return of Kid Cooper

A Novel
edition:Hardcover

The year is 1910. Nate Cooper is an old-school cowboy who has spent nearly thirty years in a Montana prison of a wrongful life sentence for a false murder conviction. Nate's moral compass is true and unwavering: he does all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Upon his release he learns that the turn of the century has brought great change--none of it good. Horses are being replaced by the motorcar, his girlfriend has long ago married his best friend, his nemesis is running for Governor, …

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