Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book review: The Break by Katherena Vermette

Some are told 'you are your brother's keeper', but in this day and age we are warned 'don't get involved'. So the question is if you saw someone in need what would you do?

In The Break, author Katherena Vermette addresses this question head-on. 

Young mother Stella sees what she thinks is an attack. She does something. She phones the cops. But she's Aboriginal; she's female. When the male cops come she feels like she's the one being investigated. 

Should she have kept out of it? Did she do enough? These questions haunt her throughout the book--and they've stayed with me after I finished reading The Break. 

Abuser. Victim. Vermette explores these loaded words.

Published by House of Anansi (2016)

If you're in a library or bookstore, find The Break on the shelf. I'll wait. Got the book. Great. Now flip it open to the title page. There you'll find...

Trigger Warning:  This book is about recovering and healing from violence. Contains scenes of sexual and physical violence, and depictions of vicarious trauma.

Read this warning but don't put the book back. 

The Break left me with a warm feeling. Vermette knows her craft. Her characters are developed with care and understanding. The story handled with sensitivity.


If you enjoy reading this book, you may also enjoy A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Red Tent. I did.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
published by Penguin Canada (2008)

Hosseini explores the treatment of women in Afghanistan. The brutality that is depicted is off-set by the fine string of hope that connects woman to woman--a fragile (yet unbreakable) bond of friendship.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
published by Picador USA (1997)

Dinah, the Bible barely mentions her, but in the pages of this book she speaks, sings, dances, breathes. We follow her from virgin to mother to crone--and even to her final breath. 

Favourite Quote...

'Innana is the centre of pleasure, the one who makes women and men turn to one another in the night. The great mother whom we call Innana is the queen of the ocean and the patron of the rain... The great mother...gave a gift to woman that is not known among men, and this the secret of blood... In the red tent...the gift of Innana courses through us cleansing the body of last month's death, preparing the body to receive new month's life, women give thanks--for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life somes from between our legs, and that life costs blood... You will become a woman surrounded by loving hands to carry you and to catch your first blood and to make sure it goes back to the dust that formed the fist man and the woman. The dust that was mixed with her moon blood.' (p. 158)