Thursday, August 29, 2013


My library book group read Canada for a discussion last night and I was pleasantly surprised that so many people liked the book. I found it kind of slow moving, there's really not much of a plot as you learn most of what is going to happen in the book in the first sentences of the first chapter.  "First,  I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later." It is the story of 15-year-old Dell Parsons, whose parents make the unfortunate decision to rob a bank to pay off a debt, and are sent to prison, leaving Dell  and his twin sister Berner abandoned and alone, and the family torn apart forever.  After a few days on their own, Berner runs away to California, and Dell is taken by his mother’s friend across the border to Canada, where he lives for a short time in Saskatchewan province with some shady characters.   The book is divided into three parts--his life with his family in Great Falls, Montana, and when the robbery takes place, the short period when he lives in Saskatchewan, and 50 years later, when an older Dell is looking back on his life. I liked the first part the best and felt the second part was too long and slow.  The strength of the book is Dell's voice,  telling the story and describing the setting, and his feelings about a life gone astray and what happens next.

When I got to the end of the book, I thought the very last sentences pretty much summed up the book and how Dell made sense of his world.

“What I know is, you have a better chance in life—of surviving it—if you tolerate loss well;  manage not to be a cynic through it all; to subordinate, as Ruskin implied, to keep proportion, to connect the unequal things into a whole that preserves the good, even if admittedly good is often not simple to find. We try, as my sister said. We try. All of us. We try."

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