The Break was a recent book club selection that was part of being intentional about not just reading yet another novel about white, middle-class North Americans in their 30’s. 2017 has been about intentionally divresifying the reading list, and man, aren’t we all just better for that?
This book is set in Winnipeg, Manitoba and focuses on a Metis family (and their friends) dealing with several crises in each of their lives. The chapters focus alternately on several members of the family from various generations, as their stories overlap and intersect. There is a heartbreaking crime at the heart of the story, which serves to both unify and polarize these women. The circumstances they find themselves in, the stories that they are navigating through, are dark and real – this definitely isn’t a lighthearted novel.
There is definitely talk of race and culture, and is a very very real conversation that is happening in Canada as years of governmental oppression of the Native population is getting more media coverage (although not as much as deserved, lets be honest). I feel ashamed about how little I know about the culture and history of my neighbours; this book doesn’t solve that by any means, but is a great glimpse into a rich heritage and how it is lived out today.
My favourite part was the bond between these women – how the family matriarch was such a unifying force in their lives and how much they all valued her; how history repeats itself and how hard it is to break the cycle of pain and hurt. Across so many cultures there is a common theme of the resilience of women when life falls apart – and these Metis women were no exception.
A great, although heartbreaking, read.