Friday, 17 February 2017

"The Break" by Katherena Vermette

author- Katherena Vermette

"The Break" is a Canada Reads finalist this year.
   A 13-year-old girl is viciously attacked in an open field.  A young Metis woman sees, from her house, that someone is in trouble and calls the police.  The piece of land is called "The Break" and I thought that was the reason for the title.  However, there is a much larger theme in this book that is reflected in the title.
  This whole novel centres around the crime, drawing in all the family members- four generations.  Unfortunately, it is mostly the female family members because most of the men have left.     
  Because there are so many characters involved, the story seems disruptive.  But in hindsight, that seems to be the right format for this book.  It is about native women and their lives are very disruptive.  The generational pain is so apparent in the ways all of the women cope with their lives- drinking, crying, switching men. They are constantly looking for 'something'.  And, because the mothers are preoccupied, and the fathers are absent, the children have no stability or direction in their lives. 
   And so, the title: "Broken".  The women are all broken.  It is a cycle that just keeps repeating.  
  This book was ideal for discussion.  
We are very interested to see what Candy Palmater will have to say in her defence of this book on the Canada Reads panel, March 27-30.  Candy is a comedian/broadcaster.

Candy Palmater


  1. Oh dear - I was waiting to see what you would say about this one, given that we have opposite views on Fifteen Dogs. I found this novel confusing and I couldn't keep the characters straight. I was constantly looking back to see who was who. Ultimately the book just didn't engage me at all and I gave up at page 159. Life's too short! Don't you just love books and especially the readers of them? Thanks for continuing your blog - I love it!

  2. Hi Penny,
    You quit too soon! But there were so many characters that I needed to make my own spread sheet of characters so I had it right beside the text and could refer easily.
    But the language was so beautiful and it helped me to understand the life of indigenous women.
    And.. I plan to spend two days this week breaking the code for "Fifteen Dogs"! LOL

  3. The book was incredible, heartbreaking and astounding for me. The first book I've ever read with a Metis storyline. Pages 300 and 301 felt like the were pages right out of my own experience. I've said those words, i've thought those words although likely not as eloquently as the author Katherena has done here. So poignant! I must copy them out into my journal.