My rating: 4/5 stars
Rebee Shore’s life is fragmented. She’s forever on the move, ricocheting around Alberta, guided less than capably by her dysfunctional mother Elizabeth. “The Shore Girl” follows Rebee from her toddler to her teen years as she grapples with her mother’s fears and addictions, and her own desire for a normal life. Through a series of narrators–family, friends, teachers, strangers, and Rebee herself–her family’s dark past, and the core of her mother’s despair, are slowly revealed
The first sentence in the synopsis is bang on. Rebee Shore’s life is fragmented. So was my reading experience. So is this review.
I’ve been paralyzed for six months in writing this review. The reasons are uninteresting, but most come down to the fact that I don’t quite know what to make of the book. I enjoyed it, but my reactions were a little strange. Like how I didn’t cry while reading, despite many tragic circumstances, but cried suddenly and heartily upon finishing the last page. Because I was going to miss the characters? Because I had a bad feeling about the main character, Rebee? I think it was supposed to be a optimistic ending, but I had this sinking feeling…
I can tell you now that I’m all grown up, that I don’t need a mother to keep me safe. That might be a lie.
Sponsored by the Edmonton Public Library, the Edmonton Public Library Alberta Readers’ Choice Award is awarded annually for the best fiction or narrative non-fiction written by an Alberta author. The $10,000 award – presented annually by the Edmonton Public Library and one of Alberta’s richest literary prizes – recognized the exceptional writing talent in Alberta and encourages readers to support Alberta authors.
I considered applying to sit on the jury for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award this year, but was intimidated by the amount of reading I’d have to do. I shouldn’t have been; I’d already read five of the longlisted ten (chosen by library staff across Alberta) and of the shortlist (decided by the jury,) I’ve read three of five, and own another. Ah well. I’ll have to be satisfied with the power of my vote. Regular joes like us decide who wins, and the winner gets a novelty-sized cheque for $10,000.
The Alberta Readers’ Choice Award Final Five are:
- Almost a Great Escape by Tyler Trafford
- Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak (my review)
- Pilgrimage by Diana Davidson (my review)
- The Dilettantes by Michael Hingston (my review)
- The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
Vote here. Voting is open for the whole month of May. Only one vote for person, so no annoying “vote everyday!” social media blitzes.
Today, I’m off to my local library branch, Jasper Place, to hear the four Edmonton-based authors read from their shortlisted books. We’ll also hear from readers, which is a cool twist! Check it out at 1:30 p.m. today, May 24th.
Last year’s winner was Frank Kimmel, for The Shore Girl, which is still on my to-review list (it’s great.) Check out Another Book Blog’s review and interview. I met Fran at a reading last year, and someone asked her what she spent that novelty-sized cheque on, which was a little rude if you ask me! Fran said she would spend it on upgrading her technology. The $10,000 prize would certainly be enough to get some sweet gear.
For me, the best Alberta book of 2013 wasn’t even on the longlist – Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist. Roost by Ali Bryan was an oversight too. I don’t know if it’s proper etiquette to say who I voted for, but I’m nosy and I want to know who you are voting for, so here goes. I voted for the book that surprised me the most and brought me the most joy as a reader: The Dilettantes.
Which book has your vote?
I was inspired to do a third soundtrack (check out Part I and Part II) by Rory at Fourth Street Review. Her literary mixtapes immerse the reader in one book through a whole album’s worth of great music. Check out her latest Literary Mixtape for Bonfire of the Vanities, which is such a great book and one that I will never ruin by watching the movie.
My approach is different. I like to pair one song with one book. As it happens, these are all books I’ve read but have yet to review. Hopefully this will hold you over till I get it together.
The Book: The Monk by Matthew Lewis
The Song: Take Me To Church by Hozier
She sealed his lips with a wanton kiss; ‘Though I forgive your breaking your vows to heaven, I expect you to keep your vows to me.
This is a perfect pairing because both author and singer are super young guys who need to calm down a bit. Matthew Lewis was nineteen when he wrote The Monk in 1796. It is one of the craziest, Gothic-iest books I’ve every read, and I read a lot of crazy Gothic books. Hozier is a 24 year old Irish singer in heavy rotation on CBC Radio 2 and his song Take Me To Church is super overwrought, in a good way:
If the Heavens ever did speak
She is the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week
‘We were born sick,’ you heard them say it
My church offers no absolutes
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen
They both strike me as that one guy you dated in high school who was super intense and complicated and listened to a lot of NIN (or whatever decade-appropriate band you want to insert there.) And both apparently have some issues with religion.