Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

October 13, 2014 Coming of Age, Psychological 7

Greetings Bookworms!

You may have noticed over the past month or so that I’ve been on a little bit of a Native American author kick. Since it’s been such an awesome ride so far, when I was contacted by Open Road Media to check out Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson, I jumped at the offer. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. This in no way reflects opinions expressed on the novel.*

monkeybeachMonkey Beach centers on a Native American family in British Columbia. (I can still say Native American when referring to native peoples who reside in what is now Canada, right? I mean, the US kind of bogarted the term “American” despite the fact that there are TWO FULL CONTINENTS who have a claim on it.)

20 year old Lisamarie Hill had a crazy childhood. She finds herself reliving her life’s journey in a speedboat while she travels to meet her parents in the place her brother Jimmy went missing (and is presumed drowned.) The Haisla community Lisa hails from has seen its own share of trials including alcoholism, poverty, domestic violence. and untimely deaths. Lisa’s own predicament is complicated by the fact that she deals not only in the physical world, but the spiritual world as well. She doesn’t understand her “gift” and struggles to reconcile Haisla traditions with contemporary Canadian life.

This book was pretty intense. I mean, what IS IT with the Native American authors bringing the pain? Travelling back and forth between Lisa’s past and present was a bit jarring, but I think it stylistically served to demonstrate how scattered Lisa is feeling while reeling from yet another potential loss. Robinson also has some mad skills with describing scenery. I felt like I could see the beaches and channels and forests described in this novel. Plus the cuisine? I mean, I can’t say that I’m aching to try oolichan grease, but you’ve got to respect a writer who can describe fish grease, soapberry foam, and the intricacies of blueberry picking and make it INTERESTING. Respect.

If you’re looking for a book to break your heart and teach you more than you ever really wanted to know about fish grease, Monkey Beach is where it’s at!

Talk to me Bookworms! What’s the last gut-wrenching book you tackled?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

7 Responses to “Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson”

  1. Megan M.

    So she’s psychic or she sees ghosts? I love me some books about people who can see ghosts!

    The latest Louise Penny mystery didn’t turn out to be as gut-wrenching for me as they usually are, but that series is consistently good and emotional. The first one is called “Still Life.” That series is set in Canada, too.

  2. Loralie

    This book sounds really good! Probably the last book I read that wreaked me was The Book Thief. I kept telling myself “It’s narrated by Death during WWII, this isn’t going to end well” to try and prep myself for the ending but I still ugly cried at the end.

  3. Amy @ Read a Latte

    I actually have this book waiting to be read and reviewed myself, but I didn’t know it was this sad until reading this. I sometimes like gut-wrenching books though, the last one being Island of a Thousand Mirrors, which I loved despite its awful subject.

  4. Chanin

    First Nations is the PC term in Canada. Though Native American and Aboriginal are also perfectly acceptable. ^_~

    I loved this book…I read it for a summer class in university and then wrote a thoroughly nerdy paper about Aboriginal place names and stories.

    If you are looking for something a little less gut-wrenching in the field of Native Lit I would recommend Don Birchfield’s Field of Honor or Black Silk Handkerchief. He manages to inject a fair amount of humour into his writing. Thomas King as well. Or on the side of slightly gut-wrenching but also super weird Silko’s Almanac of the Dead.

    • Words For Worms

      Good to know! High five on your thoroughly nerdy paper- when it comes to papers, the nerdier the better I think. Bonus points if you get excited about the nerdy topic! I read Silko’s Ceremony in college- powerful stuff!

  5. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I was just about to say First Nations but Chanin beat me to it! I’m reading a chapter a night (more chapters per night would be too depressing) of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. It’s pretty sad, but it also has a really fascinating viewpoint on a lot of things about the US that I hadn’t really thought of before. So maybe an American Indian fiction kick will be next for me!

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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