The week has come and gone and this girl read all the books BEFOREhand. Preparation. Now the process of narrowing down to the winner. Jian Gomeshi sits around a table with the panelists inciting debate. During each hour long round the other panelists vote books off a la survivor.
Prediction: Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Winner: February by Lisa Moore
Indian Horse was my prediction for the win for two reasons: it was an engaging story; I thought no one would speak badly of it because of the burgeoning Idle No More movement. While the book was generally supported by 3/5 panelists, Charlotte Gray (defender of Away) and Ron MacLean found major fault with it including not enough hope at the end, too much hockey (from Ron MacLean’s mouth!) and lack of realistic non-native characters.
First to go was Age of Hope by David Bergen and defended by Ron MacLean. Although Mr. MacLean started the reading reality show as the jokester and slight-hard-to-take panel clown he spoke passionately in defence of Hope Koop and her seemingly unexplained depression. But the other readers weren’t moved – they needed her to have a reason to be depressed, something to set her off so even though MacLean tried to rally for the cause of being more understanding of mental health it was the first to be voted off.
Away, though championed by the most eloquent of the panel, Charlotte Gray, the other panelists could not get past the poetic language to connect with the characters and it was eliminated next.
Despite Indian Horse consistently winning by a big margin with readers in the online poll and the book tackling a very current topic MacLean and Gray thought there are other books available that do more to speak about residential schools. It was then down to Two Solitudes and February.
After some intense discussion and a valiant defence by Jay Baruchel for Two Solitudes it was kicked off in favour of a more modern novel of grief called February.
Do I agree? Yes and no. The discussion convinced me that, while a very captivating novel, Indian Horse was lacking in some key areas but they did not convince me that February was a book for all Canadians. If I could change my vote it would be for Away by Jane Urquhart for its beautiful language and interesting characters. Knowing each of the books made the discussions more personal and helped me consider each book from angles I hadn’t seen on my own. I hope this becomes an annual DapperDame event.