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November 2020 Staff Picks

Updated 2020/11/10

Becky’s Pick: Caste : the origins of our discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Reading through the last chapters of Caste: the Origins of Our Discontent during the days around the 2020 US presidential election was no less than terrifying. Wilkerson uses her journalistic skills to amazing effect, the writing is both beautiful to read and brings into focus the deep discord that has (since it’s creation) been foundational to American society. Caste built up a real life cliff hanger as the votes began to be tallied in the US.

Brenda’s Pick: How to build a girl (DVD)

This movie is based on a “true-ish” story about writer Caitlin Moran’s coming of age in Wolverhampton, England. Teenager Johanna Morrigan is an angst-filled girl living in a small house with a large family which creates hilarious situations. Her escape is her imagination and determination which fuels her writing…which takes her down an unexpected path. A very enjoyable diversion!

David’s Pick: The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

This semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a family and its struggles to find a safe and secure place for itself against the backdrop of the early decades of the 20th Century. The father of the family, Bo Mason, is abusive and reckless, and his self-centredness eventually wreaks a heavy toll on the entire family. Despite the heaviness of the material, the story is told in wonderfully expressive prose and contains many moments of real beauty.

Jayme’s Pick: Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest

This is a book about friendship, new beginnings and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog. This story tells of the beginning of a close bond of friendship between Henry and his new pet dog, Charley.

Jayme’s Pick: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Here is the story of a little raccoon who confronts the first day of school and needs reassurance. Mother Raccoon finds an unforgettable way of communicating the message that everyone most needs to hear. The perfect book for any child taking the plunge into school, endearing illustrations are as soothing as the simple story.  School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called “the Kissing Hand” to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.

Megan’s Pick: Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid

Highway of Tears is a compassionate and in-depth examination of a story that has made headlines around the world for decades. Jessica McDiarmid, who grew up in Smithers, uses her connection to place and community to tell the stories of the women and girls who’ve died on the Highway of Tears. McDiarmid’s writing shines a necessary light on the darkest parts of Canada’s colonial legacy and the lasting impacts racism and colonialism have on Indigenous communities in Canada.

Megan’s Pick: That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung

Told through a series of linked short stories, Carrianne Leung brings readers into a subdivision in Scarborough where everyone knows everyone’s business and new houses in a new community doesn’t necessarily mean a fresh start for those who call it home. Leung’s That Time I Loved You tells the story of those whose lawns maybe manicured and hold the best parties, but don’t have picture perfect lives. The stories are vivid and the characters intriguing. Move in with this group of neighbours for a little while.

Natalie’s Pick: A Hidden Life (DVD)

The true story of Austrian peasant, Franz Jagerstatter who refused to fight for the Nazis in WWII, and was martyred for his quiet faith, is portrayed in stunning simplicity by Director Terrence Malick. This film gives me goose bumps just thinking about! Jagerstatter was an unsung hero, and an inspiration in how to live with integrity and humility, in contrast to the darkness and evil that took hold of Europe.