The Wonder – Emma Donoghue

Set in Ireland in the 1860s (not long after the famine), this book provides impeccable detail into an investigation into a fantastical claim that an 11 year-old girl hasn’t eaten for four months: a miracle or a scam?  The investigation requires close observation (24/7) and as Margaret Mead postulated long ago – observation changes behaviour. One of the observers is an English nurse, so there are Irish-English issues as well. There are strong religious overtones but at its heart, this is a story about motherhood (so in that regard, somewhat similar to The Room). Donoghue is a fabulous story teller, nominated for the Giller.

15 Dogs by Andre Alexis

15 Dogs by Andre AlexisAn inventive and imaginative book that is deserving of recent accolades (Governor General’s Award, Giller). Apollo and Hermes make a wager on the consequences of granting human consciousness to 15 dogs. In most cases, there is not much consequence in short lives terminated by violence. But in a few instances, there are very interesting passages about love versus loyalty, the impact of language, and the role of dominance.

Amy note: As seen at the Vancouver Writers Festival, 2015

Martin John by Anakana Schofield

Martin John by Anakana SchofieldThis book was on the Giller short list. Martin John is a sexual predator, with actions ranging from touching himself in public to inappropriate touching of others. What is fascinating is that the voice of this book describes the circular thoughts in his head with clear evidence of mental illness. And there is his Mam, frustrated by MJ’s pattern of offending and re-offending – how far can a mother’s love stretch. This is an excellent and provocative book.

Amy notes: As seen Vancouver Writers Festival 2015

The Ever After Of Ashwin Rao – Padma Viswanathan

The Ever After Of Ashwin Rao - Padma ViswanathanA Giller finalist and another WordFest author.  This is a sweeping story from the early 1980s in India to the 1985 Air India bombing, and the aftermath leading to the trial in 2004. A search for coping mechanisms for grief produces a very strong story with distinctive characters, both in India but mainly in Canada.

Cataract City by Craig Davidson

cataract-city-by-craig-davidsonThis is a real testosterone-filled guy book starting with two 12 year old boys lost in the woods and then progressing to: wrestling, pit bull dog fighting, bare knuckle fighting between men, greyhound dog racing and finally another “lost in the woods” episode. Ultimately the book is about friendship and loyalty. This was a Giller nominee.