Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guest Post: Debbie Mutford's Review of Cathleen With's Having Faith In The Polar Girls' Prison

I had problems getting into the flow of the book because of the sentence structure.

"They know us, like they known us we going over to their houses since we was little" (pg.33)

I understand that the story is told from a teenager's point of view and that there are cultural differences in speech and slang to consider. However, I would have found it easier to dive into the book if such examples were saved for dialogue and/or the story was told more in a diary format. I did, however, overcome my resistance to the language and was eventually drawn into the plot.

I found that the language became more poetic, more gripping when Trista reflected on cultural memories or longings, especially of her Snow Nanuks or Daduk.

"When you watch drum-dancing, the rhythm gets in you. The line of calm-faced drummers, the way they hold the drums on the side and tap at the same time. The drums look like a line of circle moons held up...I could watch the drum-dance forever, pretend we are all outside under the northern lights and calling them to dance their green-white arms and stamp their red-purple licks of feet with us" (pg.144).

The story itself is full of controversial, sensitive, and thought-provoking matters. I'm looking forward to my husband reading it so we can discuss it. I'd love to hear reviews of people who have grown up in small town NT communities to put insight into the accuracies (or inaccuracies).

I'm usually a plot-girl...I rarely finish a novel due to the author's inability to maintain my attention (the same can usually be said for movies). The fact that I finished this novel at all is a compliment from my end, and even more so considering that the entire setting (aside from flashback memories) is primarily set in only one building.

The ending was predictable, or maybe I shouldn't refer to it as an ending but rather a stop in writing. I like endings to have twists and leave nothing to my imagination. With's story is a good glimpse into one character's short life experience and, I think, is intended to leave the reader with a warm, fuzzy feeling of hope. While it may have that affect on most readers, I'd rather something dramatic happen and be left with a strong sense of closure. This may be due to my need for plot rather than emotion.

All in all, I enjoyed the read and would read a sequel if With were to write a novel from Faith's childhood/teenage experiences.


Wanda said...

Love the passage you've quoted from page 144, ordinarily that alone would have me wanting to read this book. However, I've just finished Turvey and have no desire to furrow my brow and further my wrinkles over "language" anytime soon!

Teddy Rose said...

Great review! It sounds interesting but I dodn't know if I could get past the language issue.