Book Review: The Break

“One of the most important — and best– books of the year” –National Post

The Break

Canada has a problem with racism. It’s often downplayed – when the CBC shut down commenting on indigenous stories last year due to a disproportionate number that were “clearly hateful and vitriolic, simply ignorant, (or) hate disguised as ignorance,” they said it was a “small minority” causing the trouble. But the problem is much more pernicious than that. For every overt, vocal racist, there are dozens more whose “opinions about people and places (they have) never known or been to,” as Katherena Vermette says of one of her characters, go unchallenged.

Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, opens with the violent sexual assault of a young indigenous woman by a group of indigenous people in Winnipeg’s north end. It’s exactly the sort of story that would bring out comment-board trolls and misinformed opinions – “Nates beating on nates” is a phrase used by one of the police officers in the book. It’s a harsh opening that puts race front-and-centre, but beyond issues of race, The Break is also a deeply felt story of a family’s strength and healing. With adeptness and sensitivity, Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year …

Read the full review here.

Put a hold on this book via the Ottawa Public Library website here.

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