submitted by Kit Darling and the members of the Bay Area Book Club
At our December video chat, we discussed All That Matters by Wayson Choy. The companion novel to The Jade Peony, winner of the Giller Prize. The book follows the life of Kiam-Kim Chen from his arrival, aged 3, in 1925 at the Golden Mountain (Vancouver) with his father and Poh-Poh, his grandmother. Due to the restrictions of Canada’s Chinese Exclusion Act, they are travelling on “ghost papers”, giving them false identities to become the family of “Third Uncle”, a successful Chinese businessman who wants a family to replace the one he lost and to provide him with assistance in his warehouse. Like many others who were also on ghost paper, they had to maintain the fiction of their assumed identities in fear of discovery and deportation. After some time, Poh Poh and Third Uncle agree to bring a wife from China for the father and to give Poh Poh her much desired Grandsons. This wife however, must be referred to as Step-mother, even by her own children so as not to offend the ghost of First Mother – Kiam-Kim’s mother who died when he was an infant. As the children become more westernized, the tensions between the old ways and the new echo the experiences of many new immigrants. Racism is also apparent in both subtle and overt forms. The Canadian armed forces refused to accept the young Chinese volunteers. The characters are richly drawn and we are given a glimpse into the immigrant experience and life in Vancouver from the 1920’s through to the end of World War 2. A recommended read.
And here are some recommended reads available from the Hamilton Public To borrow them or place a reserve, go to https://hpl.bibliocommons.com .
The Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson. This memoir chronicles a family’s ongoing struggle to reach & raise their autistic son. Rupert & Kristin Isaacson were devastated when Rowan was diagnosed with autism & they feared that they would never be able to communicate with their son. Rowan exhibited delayed language, tantrums, hyperactivity & incontinence. Rupert & Kristin tried various therapies of behavioral interventions, viral therapy and dietary modification, but nothing helped. Then Rupert, a travel writer and horseman, seemed to find a way to reach his son through a horse named Betsy. Interacting with Betsy left Rowan lucid and calm. What happened next in this family’s quest for healing is highly unusual, astoundingly adventurous, and utterly engrossing. Paige Turner
Rowboat in a Hurricane by Julie Angus. In 2005, Julie & her fiancé Colin Angus rowed 10,000 km across the Atlantic Ocean in a quarter-inch-thick plywood rowboat. A journey of 145 days from Portugal to Costa Rica. Then they cycled the 8300 km from Costa Rica back home to Vancouver. However, the book’s focus is on the Atlantic crossing as that achievement established Julie as the first woman in the world to do so. Julie is an honours graduate from McMaster University and received her Masters of Science degree in molecular biology from the University of Victoria in BC and insists that she is “not an adventurer or an athlete”. But why did she face cyclones, hurricanes, 10-meter-high & 7-meter-long waves & near-death situations? This book offers insights into that question. It is also a white-knuckle adventure read with much information on oceanography, ecosystems, & marine biology. Paige Turner
Note: The bookmobile will be at Bennetto Community Centre on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:15. There will be no access to the bookmobile to browse, but staff will be on hand for contactless returns and holds pickup.
Have you read any of our recommendations? Liked any of the same books we talked about or disagreed totally? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org .