Two children, Evered (maybe age 12) and sister Ada (maybe 10) are orphaned after the sudden deaths of their parents and infant sister. And they are isolated on a rocky cove somewhere on Newfoundland’s northern coast. They live in almost total isolation with only the visit of a supply ship twice a year. Crummey’s brilliant descriptions of their numerous hardships becomes a profound story of resilience. But the title of this book is perfect, as these children are total innocents because of profound ignorance through lack of adult human contact. Importantly there is the strong bond of loyalty between brother and sister which becomes complicated with the onset of puberty and emerging sexuality. This is a brilliant book that I hope will be a powerful contender for the Giller Prize.
Crummey writes beautifully descriptive books about Newfoundland, both people and places. Sweetland is both a person (an old codger) and a place (an island). The latter half of the book is a brilliant description of solitude. This book is very different from his previous novel Galore which was a mix of history and fantasy.
Amy notes: Later on the 2016 Canada Reads long list