Editor’s Note: For the fifth consecutive year, The Current is pleased to offer this list of books for Christmas reviewed by Doreen Yakabuski.
At this time of year, I seem to do a lot of writing: Christmas cards, a Christmas shopping list, menus for holiday get-togethers, and that very important letter to Santa. In December I also compile a list of favourite books read during the past year. Here are some of those favourites from 2022 which you might request from Santa or gift to the book lovers on your list. Above: Book lover’s letter to Santa. Photo Doreen Yakabuski.
by Ewald Arenz
This is a magical novel. Sally, a 17-year-old girl who has escaped from a clinic where she was being treated for anorexia, meets Liss, a woman in her forties who lives alone on a large farm. Sally helps Liss with various tasks on the farm and slowly a friendship develops between the two. As their backstories are revealed, it becomes obvious that both are in need of healing. Written in beautiful prose, this uplifting book reminds us of the beauty of human connection and the healing power of nature.
The Sea Between Two Shores
by Tanis Rideout
The Stewart family from Toronto is invited by the Tabé family to the South Pacific island of Vanuatu to attend a reconciliation ceremony for their ancestors. The families discover that they are connected by devastating losses they have both suffered and by the actions of their ancestors. This complex novel examines grief and the true meaning of reconciliation. It will leave you thinking about the actions of Canadians in the past and our behaviour in the present. (I also recommend this Canadian author’s other novel, Above All Things, a fictionalized account of George Mallory’s third attempt to conquer Mount Everest, in 1924, interspersed with the viewpoint of his wife as she awaits word about her husband.)
by Geraldine Brooks
Based on the true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, this book examines antebellum horseracing, the sport of white privilege relying on the exploited labour of black horsemen. Through sections set in the present, it also emphasizes that racism has not been eradicated. Even those with no interest in the sport will find reading this novel an emotional journey: anger and sadness are felt in equal measure.
by West Camel
Aaron and Clive Goldsworthy are 62-year-old twins who have been estranged for over 40 years. Aaron is the sole occupant of Marlowe Tower, a 1970s housing development designed by their mother in London. Clive, a successful property developer, wants to turn the tower into luxury flats, but Aaron refuses to move. When two women who lived in the tower in the 1970s move back in, the brothers must confront what happened the summer of 1976 and its aftermath. The title is perfect because there are physical falls and fallings-out. People’s lives and the housing estate are falling apart. Reading the novel is a process of slowly watching everything fall into place. And readers will fall in love with this extraordinary, multi-layered novel.
Whisper of the Seals
by Roxanne Bouchard
This is the third of the Detective Moralès series set in Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula. Tasked with monitoring a seal hunt, Simone Lord, a Fisheries Officer, boards a trawler. Meanwhile Det. Moralès is investigating the savage beating of a teenager. As expected, that case leads to the trawler where Simone finds herself in increasing danger from the antagonistic crew. Readers who enjoy detective series might want to start with We Were the Salt of the Sea and The Coral Bride, the first two books. Though these are less polished, they develop characters and establish their relationships.
The Precious Jules
by Shawn Nocher
Ella Jules has spent 32 years of her life in the Beechwood Institute whose clients are intellectually challenged. Lynetta, who has been her caregiver for all that time, has applied to be her guardian because the institute is closing. Then Ella’s parents file with the courts to have Ella live with them, though their other adult children want to convince them that this is not a good idea. This family drama is heartbreaking, heartwarming, and thought-provoking.
by Douglas Stuart
This is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Mungo Hamilton, a 15-year-old living in Glasgow in the 1990s, is on a weekend fishing trip to an isolated loch with two men his mother met at an AA meeting. The trip is intended to toughen him up. A second storyline shows Mungo’s family life and describes the events leading up to the fishing trip. The novel, which examines homophobia in an intolerant culture, is raw and gritty. A couple of years ago, I recommended Shuggie Bain by the same author; it examines the complex relationship between a child and an alcoholic parent.
This is How We Love
by Lisa Moore
Newfoundland is one of my favourite places to visit, and I love novels set in that province.
This one is set in a hospital in St. John’s where 21-year-old Xavier is fighting for his life after being badly beaten and stabbed twice. His mother sits by his bedside as the snowstorm of the century (January 2020) rages outside. While we wait to see if he will survive, the reader gradually learns what led to the attack and is introduced to Xavier’s extended family and friends and their backstories. The book examines various kinds of families and how people show love in different ways.
Complete reviews of all 12 titles mentioned (and many more) can be found on my blog at https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/.
Happy Holidays! Happy Reading!
About the author: Doreen Yakabuski, a Barry’s Bay native, credits the Barry’s Bay Public Library and the Madonna House Lending Library for cultivating her love of reading. After a career as an English teacher/teacher-librarian in Timmins, she and her husband, Jack Vanderburg, settled near Cornwall. Now, Doreen reviews books on her blog: https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/ She can be spotted in the Valley from time to time.