Sunday, August 7, 2022

Comments by AmyP

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  • I thought this was a nice review of the novel Jim!

    I recently read The Other Mrs. Smith. Here are some highlights from a review I wrote for it;

    As a reader, I want to be moved and changed by a piece of writing, by complex characters that offer me a new understanding about life. As a writer, I look to be offered examples of writing that help me become a better one. With the book, I wasn’t disappointed. It offered both.

    To be honest, I am pretty amazed at how an accomplished academic professional such as Bonnie Burstow can shift gears into such rich and poetic prose that draws the reader into a collection of complex, original characters that unfold through a mysterious evolving plot that has all kinds of twists and turns. Without giving too much away here, the novel offers us a beautiful and tragic view of one brilliant woman’s life story shifting between her time living in two diverse Canadian cities; Winnipeg and Toronto. She moves us back and forth through time, offering readers a sobering account with grace, humour, dignity, and tenderness.

    It is a beautifully crafted feminist novel– a real page-turner that takes the reader on an emotional ride through the protagonist’s experience as an electroshock survivor. Naively, like so many of us, I had no idea people were even still be treated with it, never mind how damaging it is for one’s memory.

    Besides its feminist theme, it also holds space for issues of various marginalized communities from Indigenous peoples and the homeless, to the trans community. However, the underlying lesson the author offers here goes beyond the labels and categories we’ve created among us and down into to the bones of what it means to be human. Yes, we fight for what we believe in, we do our own work, we follow our passion and we stand up for injustice but also–ultimately, this book reminds us about acceptance too. It offers us a message about the great paradox of life we all must recognize sooner or later; we all experience great suffering and great joy. Life is tragic and beautiful. We will shed big tears of both kind and it’s all ok. Perhaps it is when we come to truly allow a space for both, when we don’t cling to our ideas about how things should be for us– we find our peace.