Book Reviews

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Patricia Sands Shines with the Promise of Provence
By Mary E. Latela, January 18, 2016

This review is from: The Promise of Provence (Love in Provence Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I purchased The Promise of Provence based on the engaging title. When I began to read, what unfolded was a very beautiful, realistic story about a Katherine, a young woman who suffers abandonment by husband. Through the grieving she and her mother, a wonderfully rich character described in loving detail, tread carefully. btw, It is refreshing to see an elderly person portrayed as an independent, wise, cherished one. Girlfriends – some helpful, others not so much – have so much advice, but the defining moments in this novel come when Katherine makes her own decisions – when she decides to do a home trade and finds the success as well as the disappointment of a crude masher (she had not dated for many years) a part of her journey to wholeness. I applauded her decision to stay in Provence, to get involved with the people around her, to be less afraid. When Philippe comes along, Katherine reaches a very difficult crossroad, and her decision will undoubtedly play out in the other books in the series, which are safely on my Kindle already. The full, richness of the saga have me hooked on reading the rest asap. I believe that Sands understands people, taking risks, learning to overcome challenges, and excellent, elegant prose. Highly recommended.

 

“In Search of Mary”

Gutsy Adventurer Searches and Finds Something Wonderful! Mary E. Latela November 27, 2015

Bee Rowlatt is a gifted young author, a mother with a passion for life, and a love of the incredible Mary Wollstonecraft, feminist of the late 1700s. Bee magically makes history alive, as she retraces Mary’s journey through Norway, Sweden, and onto France. Wollstonecraft is not simply a sepia photograph of a severe looking woman. She spent her short life confronting inequality in her time, and we readers see in Bee and her toddler son who accompanies her that the feminist struggle is still raging in many settings. Bee will cause you to laugh, cry, shake your head in disbelief. And the quirky people she meets range from the smitten male collector of all things Mary, through the street women, and the new-age eco-sexual set. I was impressed and inspired when Bee reads “the rest of the book” and learns about her hero and about herself. She returns home stronger and more gifted in her communication. This is an author to watch and enjoy. Bravo!

 

Holly Jacobs’ Heart-Warming Novella, October 28, 2015
Reviewed By Mary E. Latela

When I look at 13 Weeks: A Novella as a contemporary parable, it is a story about two caring people and how they meet in a difficult time. Doran travels from place to place attending the sick, and Paul is home caring for his mother who is dying. Doran is well-trained and supported in her work, and she knows that she must be professional. As Mary Ann gets worse, the two caregivers spend a little time together – a meal, a talk, etc. But afterward, as Doran prepares to move on to her next assignment, Paul asks to keep in touch. So they meet again as if for the first time, but as friends, and we know that they will fall in love. Sweet romance – the wanderer finds a home? The lonely son meets his soulmate? Now I understand! Holly Jacobs warms the heart once again!

 

Beryl Kingston opens Gates of Paradise, August 26, 2015

This review is from: Gates of Paradise (Paperback)

Beryl Kingston, pre-eminent British schoolteacher now author, weaves together the tale of several of the residents of a town called Felpham, near London, whose most prominent citizen is a vain and pretentious – and rich – poet, who dines with the rich, whose wife presides over a houseful of servants, and whose insatiable need to be served is boundless.

When the engraver-poet-artist William Blake and his wife – poor, hard-working folk – move to the town, they bring new life with them, but in ways which are unexpected. The rich poet becomes Blake’s patron, sending him loads of work, engravings, painting, grandiose projects which force the younger man into servanthood with no time for his own art, his time filled with whimsical projects of the rich owner. While Blake works on engravings commissioned through his patron, elegant poetry swirls in his own head, but he must work through the nights to put down with pen to paper what is now recognized as incomparable genius.

Blake is well-known for his poetry, including the lovely “Poems of Innocence” and the “Poems of Experience,” but not until his later years. In the town, he lives quietly with his wife, but they are not church-goers – which causes some gossip – as he has decided that manmade doctrines cast a shadow on the relationship between a person and God. Blake is a mystical poet, given to visions of angels, and sophisticated imagery, spilling over into sublime poetry and beautiful engravings.

The twist in the story comes when Blake is accused of sedition (treason) after a noisy altercation with a drunken soldier traipsing through Blake’s community garden. Other townspeople including the servant-girl Betsy, who finds a friend in Catherine Baker, and Johnnie, the young man whose passion for Betsy nearly undoes them, are drawn into the Blake dilemma.

Ms. Kingston recounts the tale with affection and respect, using her delicate, rich prose. The characters truly come out to greet the reader, as they are described with such care and depth. Contemporary readers recognize that the plight of artists is ever precarious, demanding, and often dependent on the patronizing celebrities who use them, treat them as servants, and pretend to understand them.

This is another powerful, beautifully crafted novel from Ms. Kingston, whose late husband worked on much of the historical research, and who has recently died. I could not put down this gem until the final page, and then reluctantly. I must read more.

http://www.amazon.com/Gates-Paradise-Beryl-Kingston/dp/074908071X

Mine: a novella by Fiona Quinn  July 26, 2015

Crackerjack Mystery by Fiona Quinn. Mine is a powerful, page-turner, about what happens to a school teacher CSI in-training, taking some space from PTSD stricken husband, when she returns to her hometown. Mayhem – murder, snarky characters, snappy dialogue, nicely inserted references to past relationships, conspiracy – are clearly more than coincidences for Kate, though not to anyone else. Love the superbly researched, crisp plot-linehint complete with subtle hints, and a smashing ending. I have to read the other Home Town Murders.

Nicola May triumphs with the SW19 Club.

July 25, 2015

I had to order the Kindle because I didn’t want to wait for a paper copy from UK. I was rewarded with a moving, mature, gutsy story about the loss about which we hardly ever speak, namely miscarriage.

Gracie Barnes and partner have lost unborn twins after years of IVF. There are some things which are expected: horrible aching pain and loss;  a need for someone to make it right; the relationship – shaky this time of loss – is further marred by his infidelity. Gracie turns to her sister, a few delightfuly koky friends, and unfortunately  a really bad psychotherapist – married – who has sex with everywoman.

In spite of the obstables, we witness a young woman who cannot bear her own children struggling with  what that means. At first, she uses wine and quick sex to try to forget,  and then realized she needs deeper things, like comfort, support, and telling her story.

Superb read! Women (and those who care about them) will devour this book; those who have had losses will tear up; all wth be treated to a most excellent narrative.

 

Lia Mack and the Healing Journey, July 12, 2015

Mary E. Latela
This review is from: Waiting for Paint to Dry (Paperback)

In her superb first novel, Waiting for Paint to Dry, Lia Mack takes up the story of a woman who was raped as a teenager, but who never told anyone, and after a while puts the event so deep inside her that she “forgot” it. As a thirty year old, she still suffers from triggers and memory fragments. Those who work with women who are sexual abused may understand the need for a victim to escape from the abuse by “going away,” dis-associating. When terror is too great to handle, young girls and boys may do this, may lose time, in order not to feel the awful quality of the assault, to deny it, and to live through it.The novel contains all the worst reactions to Matty’s decision to tell. She reports the rape to authorities, but it’s too late to prosecute. She tells her mother, who says she must have wanted it. She tells her sisters, who do not want or have time to deal with her history, and treat her as an outcast. Eventually, Matty separates from the family, when she has told her story or not. In her own life, she has difficulty with boundaries … not having had a relationship or any sexual activity for a long, long time, she has challenges when meeting men, when trying to determine the truth from a “line.” She seems unable to walk away from troubling situations. I read this book in exchange for an honest review.Rape is hard to deal with, very difficult to think about, andd talk about, particularly as in Matty’s case, where she continues to have significant symptoms. I don’t agree with the therapist, Dr. Linda, who may or may not be helping Matty. She advises think ahead, not back. A therapist is not the director of therapy, but a guide, a listener, a mostly silent helper, not a map maker.

The author, Lia Mack, has written a powerful, intricate account. Matty is healing, slowly, but her partner is also healing, so there will need to be growth for each for them to make it work. For some readers, particularly victims, the book may be too much, too soon, or if taken in small doses, some very helpful steps toward facing one’s own history. Mack gives the reader the results of excellent research, fine storytelling ability, and proof that truth-telling is tough, but can be transformative. Excellent; highly recommended.

 

 

Carry Her Heart by Holly Jacobs, based on Kindle Edition

Review by Mary E. Latela  June 25, 2015

 Holly Jacobs seems to grow with her writing expertise. In this gem, Carry Her Heart, she explores new territory.

Being a good girl can cost a great deal. Piper never caused any trouble and if anything came up, she took the blame and took the entire matter on her own shoulders. When she became pregnant, she told her parents and they calmly discussed the options. Of course, she would go away, have the baby, and allow her to be adopted immediately. And she would move on with her life and tell no one.

But when a heart is broken, it cannot self-mend. Holly Jacobs’ latest richly woven novel recounts the quiet life of a talented, rather reclusive writer who lives across from a school, writes children’s books, and loyally spends the holidays with her parents. Into her journal she pours out her story, little by little. The tension for me became so great that I thought she would break; she comes to that conclusion herself… that perhaps she is broken.

This is what can happen when you have a secret, when the family keeps your secret, when you made the choice partly to keep peace, when you live with loss every day. Some of us understand the real heart-break of every Mother’s Day. No one should have to bear alone the weight of an early decision. People come into Piper’s life, and she almost allows them to continue to see her as the “good girl.” Then something changes. Everything changes.

You must read this book – as a parent, as a young person, as a teacher – so that you will understand.

Beryl Kingston’s Emerging Octavia April 2, 2015

This review is from: Octavia (Kindle Edition)
Beryl Kingston is a brave and gifted writer who has demonstrated her ability to weave together the lives of imperfect people within the historical victories and defeats of the turn of the twentieth century. At the same time, she teaches us to notice the details in a person’s tone of voice, the loving way in which a mother frets and a father is more permissive and also very loving. When I read the childhood encounter of Octavia with cousin Cyrill, who planned to explored the seven seas, while she simply planned to change the world, I heard those words which have been used to curtail the creative work of women, namely, “You can’t do that because you are a girl.”Octavia wants to make her own choices. Early in adulthood, exposure to the Suffragette Movement, including the resolve of brave women against the horrors of prison and torture, leave Octavia sick and exhausted, but unable and unwilling to acquiesce to society’s expectation that women remain quiet, docile, and only do what the husband permits. She takes a job teaching, and her eyes are open to the great needs there; she becomes deeply involved in improving education, teaching, guiding other teachers, and learning about the limitations of her own strength and the need for collegiality.

Kingston’s prose is at the same time rich and delicate, and quite compelling, filled with visuals as fine as watercolor paintings, passionate emotions handled with delicacy and respect. Octavia falls in love with Tommy, an intriguing young man who follows the party line, and wants Octavia to marry him and make him her Lord and Master. Octavia is clear from the beginning that she will not, but this inner struggle is framed so well that you can almost feel Octavia’s personhood being torn and reformed, stronger than ever.

I bought the Octavia trilogy, so I will have the pleasure of reading the other books, but I am so delighted to have gotten to know Beryl Kingston through this beautifully crafted, honest, story which will ring true to many, many readers. I highly recommend this excellent novel.

Octavia’s War, Beryl Kingston 

Beryl Kingston Strides through Octavia’s War
By Mary E. Latela on May 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Octavia’s War by Beryl Kingston

The second in this trilogy picks up with Octavia Smith, daughter of a progressive couple, supportive of her active involvement in the struggles of the time, now devoted to making education for her “girls” her top priority. Her prominence is recognized by experts near and far. She has not married, but is devoted aunt to her nieces and nephews. .

The world is overshadowed by the rumors, then the reality, of a second World War, which pulls at the roots of their solid foundation. Octavia’s life is full of concerns, whether giving sanctuary to Jews fleeing Germany, trying to make sense of the horrors witnessed by her Tommy – the man she did not marry in Part I – who is now in government service, or tending to the mountain of work involved with facilitating the work of her teaching team in the day-to-day planning and achievement in the school.

I was concerned about Octavia’s “stiff upper lip,” no matter what peril came along, including horrific bombings in Britain, injury and death of friends and relatives in combat. She seems to be determined to march onward, no matter what. Then I witnessed her artfully narrated transformation into a woman of greatness, accepting the realities of a complicated existence mingled with a need for family, for friends.

This is not a book just for those who already know Octavia, though it is a wise and a delicious treat to read the initial novel. It is about the maturing of a woman of principle and compassion, fighting quietly for justice. Beryl Kingston moves on with her rich, deeply colorful prose, contrasting the dismal life in wartime with the heartfelt warmth of a hope that does not die.

 

Beryl Kingston Triumphs in The Internet Revolutionary, May 27, 2015
by Mary E. Latela
The Internet Revolutionary (Octavia trilogy Book 3) (Kindle Edition)

Beryl Kingston has successfully written a rich trilogy that spans several generations, centering on Octavia Smith, suffragette, then educational reformer. I devoured both Octavia, the first volume, and Octavia’s War, a triumph in perseverance in the time of WWII in Great Britain, when children were evacuated, bombs fell, and bigger battles were on the way.In the final part, Kingston comes full circle. Octavia’s great great nephew Simon Earnley, a frustrated inner city teacher, inherits her papers while fighting a battle with administrators and diverse educators critical of schools. When his personal relationships falter, he half-heartedly spends his time working through the thick envelope of photographs, certificated, public speeches, and instructions on how to educate a child while respecting individuality and encouraging creativity.The tempo of The Internet Revolutionary is staccato, hectic, like the pace of contemporary times, and the rollercoaster of emotions whirls around students “sick and tired,” as well as staff drowning in paperwork and that terrible evil, the standardized test. A scandal in the system calls for action and SImon, little by little, finds himself in its midst. This is a delightful, passionate, powerful novel.

I recommend reading the trilogy, which is another of Beryl Kingston’s triumphs. Teachers and others will identify with her deep understanding of people dealing with whatever life presents them.

Beryl Kingston says: Thank you so much Mary. It is heartening and encouraging to read a review that shows such a complete understanding of what I was trying to achieve in this trilogy.

 

Across the Pond, Michael McCormick, Introduction, Ron Kovic Vietnam: Still More Stories to Tell March 6, 2015, Format: Kindle Edition

For those of us who stayed home, praying for brother, boyfriend, cousins to come home safe after Vietnam, this is a shocking reminder of those times. Michael McCormick brings back into focus the horrors of war: killing, fear of being killed, turning around to find that your buddy is dead. Day after day, here in the States, we saw TV reports of the “body count.” But the bodies and souls of our military warriors are real; those who survived came home. Some, like the character Sean McBride, kept riding, looking for something to make it all worthwhile. We have no words to comfort them, so we cry, shout, lament. There surely are many more stories to tell. The crisp, staccato pace of this novella is like war. The homecoming does not sound like peace. We need to keep working on that. Superb writing! A must-read for our generation and the next.

Sarah Dessen Excels
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

May 28, 2015

Saint Anything, by Sarah Dessen, is written from the point of view of the main character, teenager Sydney, who feels invisible. Her brother, once considered the “star” of the family, is in prison after a drunk driving accident which injured a young man. Everyone knows everyone in Smalltown America, so Sydney feels she is in the spotlight… people are not kind to her.For some young people, the only way to survive is to be the “good child.” Lest any reader think that she is to blame for this state of mind, I suggest that parents read about what happens when they don’t know how to handle a problem AND refuse or do not even think about getting help. We readers know right away that Ames is trouble, that Dad never talks back to Julie (Mom), that Julie tries to mother her children by hovering over them. When Sydney makes a big mistake in judgment, Julie punishes her daughter severely, does not listen, and plans life around visiting the imprisoned Peyton, who is clear about not wanting her to be there.We know what it’s like to find another adult – an aunt or friend – who understands and does not judge us. Fortunately, Sydney finds a family where she’s a welcome visitor, good friend, helper. A few friends understand her.

Parenting is not about hanging on, but about – little by little – letting go. We wonder why Sydney seems to have perfect self-control, and never spouts out her anger at the parents. This is the21st century, and teenagers talk back. We want Sydney to be powerful, to do something brave and bold. We need to read and see. I will be reading more of Sarah Dessen’s fine YA fiction, and recommend that young adults and parents read this one.

 

 “Two Lives and One Tapestry,” March 12, 2015   Just One Thing (Kindle Edition),  by Holly Jacobs.  Reviewed March 12, 2015         Holly Jacobs understands how relationships unfold. In Just One Thing, she starts with a thought, a little pebble, polishes it, and creates a sparkling gem. “Sometimes healing begins with one step, with one friend … with just one thing.” The story of Lexie and Sam is a gift to the reader. When Lexie, goes down to a small-town bar every Monday for a bottle of beer, she does not socialize. After a good long time (six months), Sam, the bar owner, looks at Lexie and says, “One thing.” And she responds. She starts with her name. Each week, she shares “one thing” – about Angus the dog, about her cottage, about going to Ireland, about getting married at age twenty. After starting to tell her story, Lexie returns to her loom to work a little again. She is clearly very sad, but her emotions are locked away. Sam is intense, and you just know from the beginning that his story is quite deep as well. The lyrical, clear, warm way in which Jacobs weaves a tapestry of their lives is sure to keep you reading. This is a great, wondrous story of how healing progresses – if it does – a little at a time. I have read Jacobs’ earlier books and loved them, but this one is staying right here, in my heart.
 “Without a Groom and with a curse on the family, what can you do?”  Everything But a Groom (Everything But…Series Book 1) (Kindle Edition) by Holly Jacobs. Reviewed March 15, 2015Everything but a Groom could be a sad tale, but in Holly Jacob’s world it’s just a set-back. Hounded by the press, the bride left at the altar hides out. No one would know, except that grandmother who put the curse on the family – no true love means no marriage – and also cooks luscious Hungarian comfort food, alerts the press and everyone knows. The bride makes a new friend, recently the receiver of two young nephews. The two work together and find more than a little romance. Highly recommended, imaginative, fun reading!
Everything But a Bride (Everything But …..Series Book 2)  by Holly JacobsI loved my intro to @HollyJacobs “Everything but” series. “The bride” is still about the Salo family under the marriage curse … marry for pure love or it’s not going to work out. But different, quirky, real characters are featured,along with grandmother who started the curse after she was left at the altar. Very 21st century, pleasant, satisfying love story. Highly recommended. I expect to read them all.
Carla Norton’s Gifts Shine in a Compelling Crime Thriller, March 1, 2015 The Edge of Normal (Reeve LeClaire Series) (Mass Market Paperback)Carla Norton has written an intensely compelling suspense thriller about extraordinary people impacted by the crimes of kidnapping, captivity, and torture. Her villain is despicable. Reeve, a victim who was freed ten years earlier, is still working through the trauma of her ordeal. The focus, and the amazing thrill of this story, is that Reeve is strong. Her perceptions, her heightened awareness of danger, her first steps to recovering empathy and connection with other persons, are recounted beautifully, and become the centerpiece for her new challenge. As a mentor to Tilly, another returned captive, Reeve learns about herself, about legal and policy protocol, about human behavior. She is able to utilize her own razor-sharp instincts to help in addressing Tilly’s struggles, and beyond that, to respond to a larger problem. The psychiatrist, Dr. Lerner, encourages her in this growth, and Reeve gradually takes back the reins, making choices both brave and compassionate. I truly devoured this superb page-turner, with twists and turns which leave the reader reeling.

 

Anne Leigh Parrish Captivates with Family Novel, February 15, 2015 What is Found, What is Lost: A Novel (Paperback) Anne Leigh Parrish

Here is a splendid, rich, and deeply thoughtful journey through the lives of the women of one Midwestern family. They seem eerily similar, not particularly interested in being mothers, treating their children badly, trying to get along with men who are complicated and mostly unresponsive. They either feel too passionately or act the stoic, holding everything inside. This is not a story about religion or faith. It is not an “inspirational book,” nor a Christian book. This is a multi-layered series of stories about women trying to find themselves through their encounters with every sort of distortion/anomaly, seen in “religious” people: those who love religion, hate religion, pretend to be people of faith, in other words, hypocrites. As in life, these misfits come in every religious group. The tapestry of this family is sewn, loosely, imperfectly, by these outsiders, and therein lies the novel’s captivating attraction. Freddie, the newly widowed central character, ties together the generations. First Lorraine, her abusive, alcoholic mother, shows up, having been sent home by the lecherous tent preacher who’d lured her into running away from home to spread the “Good news” decades before. She’d abandoned her daughters, Freddie and Holly, in the tent community, left them to fend for themselves, nearly illiterate, unkempt, and hungry. Before Freddie married Ken, a cop, she told him what she knew of her background, and he was not turned off, but simply said, “I’m a cop. I’ve seen everything.” Apparently, Ken and Freddie argued a great deal, he resenting her working at a grocery store, she determined to show resolve, forbearance, and sometimes, silence. When they had their daughter Beth, Freddie was dutiful, but sometimes cruel and demanding, rarely affectionate. Freddie seems to be the one to come home to, so Holly and her husband visit, bursting with plans for a car, a new home, and other material things. The homecoming of the daughter, Beth, nearly unnerves Freddie. Beth ran away as a teen, worked in a questionable place, and has a son, whom she virtually ignores. She announces that she is pregnant; the father is a married priest. Parrish’s linguistic expertise is compelling. When Anna, the grandmother, needs to find a place where she is not known, she boards a streetcar and notes: “All those people with their problems were like a river of gray water that flowed on and on, yet never met the sea, never found release, was never set free.” (p.131) Then Anna goes to confession in a Catholic church. A list of sins flows rhythmically: divorce, living in sin, reconciliation, failing her child. When the priest counsels, “You must find your way back to God,” Anna thinks, Not back to God, To myself. Anne Leigh Parrish has brilliantly succeeded with her carefully crafted saga, which totally captured my attention. This is a superb novel, written by a gifted author who carefully fills out her characters with creativity and imagination.

What a Road Trip!, February 10, 2015 Discovery of an Eagle (Kindle Edition) Grace MattioliGrace Mattioli uses the “road trip” motif to explore the adventures of Cosmo Greco, a young man laid off from his job, accompanying his sister Sylvia from Philadelphia to Portland, Oregon. The “southerly” route is circuitous as Sylvia has people to see along the way, namely friends and two sisters, and must-see destinations, including the Grand Canyon. It is a strange route they take. For example, they avoid the main route through California with its glorious, heady busy-ness, choosing the way of the high desert, where the clutch of the car finally gives out. Cosmo sees the near-miss accident early in the trip, the encounter with a majestic eagle which comes too close for comfort, and even the time in Bakersfield getting the car fixed, as meaningful, even life-changing. He is conflicted about the trip, whether to stay in Portland, whether to return to his humdrum job. In a way, this is an essay, and the characters are secondary. We have no idea what any of the characters look like. We learn more about the meals they eat than about their physicality, faces, quirky habits, which might have enriched the storyline. Frank, their father, is mentioned twice, described simply as a drunk, but near the end Cosmo connects with him, begins to understand him. The mother and two sisters who come upon the page suddenly, even Cosmo and Sylvia, could be anybody, and perhaps that is Mattioli’s point. Details which I would have appreciated include: why Cosmo, the oldest son in an Italian-American family and traditionally the protector of his siblings, does not seem connected to the siblings, On the other hand, he shares a deep interior conflict with Sylvia, and is reluctant to admit that he actually has feelings – about the land, about work, about his life so far. A little more polish and passion would help, but over all, this is another touch point for a young author, who is described as writing “realistic fiction.” I will be looking for Part I, and later, Part III. I truly enjoyed the read!
 Parrish Lights the World with Short Story Collection, Our Love Could Light the World (Paperback) Anne Leigh Parrish, January 28, 2015 Anne Leigh Parrish has created another gem with Our Love Could Light the World. It’s not that we probably know people like the Dugans. It’s not that we have flaws, too. It’s not just that marriages can fall apart, or that people can leave, or that when you think it can’t get any worse, unpredictable acts of kindness happen. The magic is in taking an ordinary family with rather ordinary stresses and using clear and compelling language to pinpoint the moments in their lives when life changes.As the Dugans plod along, Parrish shapes the ordinary into exquisite fiction. Sharp edges of tension mix with near-apathy about leaving behind five kids or making sure you don’t have any more. The use of extremes as settings for compassion – the old man who speaks the title as he looks in vain for his love and the little girl with Downs syndrome as victim to be rescued – is somewhat jolting. Yet, just when we think we have heard the whole story, something startles us. I believe that this is Anne Leigh Parrish’s gift. In life, people like the Dugans can meet catastrophic loss or inflict horrific abuse. In this collection of superb short stories, they experience a mediocre quality of life in which sometimes they find a sense of what “family” means. We can all relate. I’m ready for more of Parrish’s fine work.
Disappearance of first nation people: the Inuits in Canada., January 10, 2015, The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic (Paperback) Melanie McGrathThis is a riveting account of the oppression, mistreatment, and near annihilation of the Inuit forced to live in the Northern Arctic regions most recently in the 1950s forward. What the book makes clear is that this pattern of taking over aboriginal people is long and truly harsh.Ross Gibson, who was put in charge of the forced movement to the uninhabitable Ellesmore and other “islands” was not aware of the history of the Inuits. Forcing Inuit people from their homeland began in 1576 with Martin Frobisher, Captain of the Gabriel, whose men tried to lure the natives on board, then took one prisoner all the way back to England, where his gravesites still remains. There was no informed consent; the Inuits were told they were going to a better place, where they would have free reign, land of their own, rich hunting and fishing. What they gave up were their minimal government payments, simple medical assessment, occasional handouts of food. One of the gravest dangers when the while “colonists” explored other nations is the sharing of viruses: untreated tuberculosis, measles, unattended births – no one was trained to help deliver babies who were never warm enough and who rarely had protein, which they needed to survive.The conference meant to symbolize apology from the Canadian government, which took place in 1993, found only a handful of survivors in attendance. Some spoke angrily of their losses; others sat listening to more promises, which have never been fulfilled. I have read this type of story before and yet, this account of the Inuit exile is most heart-breaking.

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