Release date: March 15, 2013
Publisher: NeWest Press
Thank you to NeWest Press for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Half-Asian teenager Grace (but she’d prefer it if you called her “Gray” instead) is not a perfect little supermom-in-the-making like her older sister Jessica, and would rather become a marine biologist than a mother—although she does understand how to take care of her special-needs kid brother Squid better than anyone else in her family. When her mother Belinda abruptly runs out on her family and flies across the Atlantic in order to study crop circles in the English countryside, Grace is left alone to puzzle out her life, the world, and her unique place within it. With a warmth and a boisterous sense of humour reminiscent of Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness and Peter Hedges’ What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? author Corinna Chong introduces us to two lovable and thoroughly original female characters: persnickety, precocious Grace, and her impractical, impulsive mother Belinda—very different women who nevertheless persistently circle back into each other’s hearts.
Before I start the review proper, let me get a few cliches off my chest: Stunning debut. Unflinching. Courageous.
Belinda’s Rings is about a lot of things. It’s about being a parent and being a sibling and being a child. It’s about mental illness and race and marginalization. It’s about perfect circles on the ground and lights in the sky and creatures in the sea. But most of all, it’s about mothering. And in a media environment that is sorely lacking in any nuanced discussion of motherhood (“Mommy Wars,” anyone?) it is so satisfying to read a take on motherhood that had me nodding in agreement and wincing in horror all at once. Continue reading
I’m back at work and feel like I’m struggling to read my minimum ten pages per day, yet I still have updates! And on the 1st of the month, too! WHO AM I?
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. 3/5 stars. This was my first official Classics Club selection, and I didn’t love it. There are only so many times I can read the word “languid” before it loses all meaning (and I like the word languid!) But I did appreciate the main character, who was thoroughly modern. Review to follow!
- Belinda’s Rings by Corrina Chong. 4/5 stars. Loved it. Completely original and completely familiar at the same time. The only book I can compare it to right now is White Oleander. I know some people didn’t like White Oleander, but I did, so that’s a compliment. Review and hopefully author Q&A to follow!
- The Magic of Saida by M.G. Vassanji. In progress. I’m struggling to get into this book. I’m not sure what’s holding me back. The writing is great and the story is compelling. Maybe I’m getting bogged down in details, as I am wholly unfamiliar with Tanzanian history and culture. I’m not giving up yet!
- But one is on its way. The kind people at MacEwan Book of the Year are sending me a copy of Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb. I know very little about it, but I love the title!
Books I Want to Read – adding to the To Be Read pile
- Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer. Book Riot says, “Buy It. Buy All The Copies You Can Find, and Use the Extras To Decorate Your Town With Amazing Prose.” And I say, okay then.
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke. This was suggested to me when I was let down by The Night Circus.
- Bumped by Megan McCafferty. It’s YA, but I’m intrigued by the premise – in a society where adults have become infertile, teenage girls become surrogates in droves. Brought to my attention by this post at Book Riot (love that site!)
Bonus: #Yeg Literary Events
I’ve noticed an upswing in literary events in Edmonton. Here are just a few.
- Pecha Kucha Night 15 is at The Expo Centre on March 7, 2013. Jason Lee Norman will speak about the 40 Below Project (if you’re paying attention, you might remember I submitted a story. It was rejected, but the email was VERY nice,) and Caylie Gnyra from Little Cree Books will speak about “Language Ally.” And look at the gorgeous Night Circus inspired poster!
- Rosina, the Midwife by Jessica Kluthe launches at Spinelli’s Bar Italia on March 23rd, 2013. I probably can’t make it, but I am really looking forward to this book! Check out the Facebook page for the event.
- The MacEwan Book of the Year for 2013 is The Cat’s Table by Michael Odaantje, and the author will appear on March 21st at MacEwan downtown campus. I’m buying my ticket tonight. For $22 I will get a copy of the book, get it signed, and hear Odaantje talk about it. What a deal! There is also a FREE panel discussion about the book on March 7th at 12:30pm. All the details are here.
- Check out the Metro Writers in Residence website for lots of writing-focused events. I attended a discussion about blogging this past Sunday. Not only was it free and super informative, but I met one of the Writers in Residence, Omar Mouallem, and blogger extraordinaire Shareen Ayoub – go check her out; I guarantee you’ve read nothing like it! Mini-review of the blogging session to follow!
And now, I have reading to catch up on. And sleep. Not necessarily in that order.