Review: The Break by Katherena Vermette

2017: 18
4.5 stars
Published September 2016

A young girl is assaulted in an empty lot near the house of a young Metis mother who calls the police. It shakes her up considerably, especially after it takes them four hours to show up. From here we sift through various people, mostly women, mostly relatives of the young girl. We hear their stories, their connection to the girl, to each other, to the community. Mostly, they’re First Nations women or Metis, over four generations of women who might have their problems, issues and fears but who are there for each other, believing in family first and foremost.

We hear their stories, some of their backgrounds and some of the events leading up to the night of the assault. Then, after the assault, trying to support each other as the police try to figure out what happened and who did it. One of the police officers is a young Metis man himself, working with a tired, jaded, middle aged white cop. The younger man is determined to get to the bottom of the crime against roadblocks of racism, apathy, fear and defeat, things the Native and Metis community members deal with every day.

I see themes of family, identity, loss, and ultimately, hope. The story is told with gut wrenching honesty. Each of the women are survivors and stronger together. The story is intense at times, emotional. Some of the characters are less developed than others, and there are quite a few of them. Telling the story from nearly a dozen points of view is risky and it can be a bit confusing but ultimately, the characters carry the story.

This is my favourite of this year’s Canada Reads contenders and it fits the Canada Reads Bingo square for this year’s challenge.

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