JUSTINE LEWKOWICZ

Reviews

Stories 1 to 5 of 168
10/19/2014

BOOKENDS REVIEW: Girl Runner

Girl Runner Carrie Snyder Fiction **Girl Runner is a finalist for the Rogers Writers`Trust fiction prize. SYNOPSIS: At the age of 104, Aganetha Smart is alone. She has no one to take care of her, except the staff in her nursing home.   She is no longer the successful Olympic gold medallist she was in the 1920s. One day, two strangers come to visit. They take her down memory lane when they drive her to her childhood home. Aganetha begins to remember the dreams she once had, and the successes and failures that shaped her life. As the story unravels, Carrie Snyder reveals the strangers’ intentions and Aganetha’s past secrets. MY THOUGHTS: This book is so beautifully written, it’s now one of my favourites of the year. Snyder pulls you in by developing a character that is unforgettable. While Aganetha succeeds in becoming a world-class runner, she struggles with living a fulfilling life. In her effort to find joy, she discovers guilt and loss instead. Snyder proves that there is nothing worse than dying alone. The complexity of Aganetha’s relationship with Glad is also compelling. There’s a fine line between their friendship and their rivalry. Girl Runner is a wonderful ... Read more
10/2/2014

BOOKENDS REVIEW: David Cronenberg's Consumed

Consumed David Cronenberg Fiction SYNOPSIS: In a Paris apartment, authorities find the mutilated, dismembered and partially-consumed body of famous French intellectual Celestine Arosteguy. The prime suspect, her husband Aristide, has disappeared. Journalist Naomi Seberg takes it upon herself to find him and unravel the grisly mystery. She’ll do anything to get to the bottom of the story, including getting herself entangled in a creepy plot. Her boyfriend, Nathan Math, a medical journalist, also gets involved when he finds his own interesting subject in Toronto – a Hungarian doctor’s daughter who has unsettling habits. The two of them create a new, disturbing form of embedded journalism. MY THOUGHTS: If you’re a fan of classic, early David Cronenberg, you’ll be a fan of Consumed. The book is full of self-immolation, cannibalism, disease,and deranged erotica. The physical gore is nothing, though, compared to the psychological contortions of the characters’ minds. Most menacing is the thought process that leads to self-destruction. The one time Cronenberg lost me a bit is in the second half of the book. The flow of the story is put on pause when one of the characters explains a backstory. That aside, Consumed is satisfyingly disturbing.  Now that Cronenberg has ... Read more
9/27/2014

BOOKENDS REVIEW: My October

My October Claire Holden Rothman (Giller-nominated author) Fiction SYNOPSIS: The book follows the lives of the Levesque family in Montreal, three decades after the October Crisis changed the national landscape. In 2001, language and cultural divides still exist in Quebec. Tensions are even evident between friends and family members, like the Levesques. Luc Levesque is a famous Quebec writer and a champion of the separatist movement. His wife Hannah Stern, meanwhile, is the daughter of the special prosecutor who put separatists behind bars after the Crisis. From the day Hannah marries Luc, a deep rift appears between her and her father. Their teenage son Hugo rebels by turning his back on his francophone upbringing, and taking on his grandfather’s Anglo surname. The relationships between husband, wife and son are tested as Hugo researches some of the main players of the October Crisis. The story is inspired by two real-life figures – James Cross, a British diplomat who was kidnapped by the FLQ in 1970, and Jacques Lanctot, Cross’ captor. MY THOUGHTS: Claire Holden Rothman personalizes and humanizes a political crisis. She reminds you that partisan battles play out in neighbourhood homes, just as they do in government buildings.   She ... Read more
9/21/2014

BOOKENDS REVIEW: Between Gods: A Memoir

Between Gods: A Memoir Alison Pick Non-fiction ABOUT THE BOOK: When Alison Pick was a teenager, she made a discovery that would change her life. She found out that her paternal grandparents were Jewish. They had escaped Czechoslovakia during the Second World War and avoided being caught up in the anti-Semitism being spread by the Nazis. Not all of her relatives, though, survived the Holocaust. When her grandparents moved to Canada, they hid their Jewish heritage. In Between Gods, Alison talks about unearthing her family’s past. Depression sets in as she researches Judaism and considers conversion, all while she plans a wedding and struggles with mapping out her future. MY THOUGHTS: My favourite memoirs are those that are honest and raw. Last year, Jowita Bydlowska offered that kind of genuineness in Drunk Mom, and this year it’s Alison Pick. She’s blunt and candid when talking about her depression and struggles. The most unbelievable moment in Between Gods is Alison’s description of a miscarriage she had while sitting on a toilet. I’m amazed that she was able to put down such a devastating experience on paper – for all to read. Alison has an incredible story of rearranging her life that ... Read more
9/2/2014

BOOKENDS REVIEW: Eric McCormack's Cloud

Cloud Eric McCormack Fiction SYNOPSIS: Visiting Mexico on a business trip, Harry Steen ducks into an old bookshop to escape a rainstorm. As he peruses the shelves, he finds a mysterious book called The Obsidian Cloud. It catches his eye because of the mention of a Scottish village where he once spent a few months training to become a teacher. Harry hasn’t been back to Dundairn since an incident many years ago had him running away as far as possible. As he researches a dark and deadly phenomenon documented in The Obsidian Cloud, Harry is forced to face his demons. MY THOUGHTS: Eric McCormack had me captivated right from the start. His dark and suspenseful writing reminds me of Stephen King, one of my favourite authors. The story keeps moving and changing, so there’s no time for the reader to get bored. McCormack raises ethical questions in Cloud about when the end justifies the means. His scenarios are terrifying, but what makes them so is the realization that they’re not that far-fetched. This kind of book can never have a cadenced ending, because then the mystery would be quashed. It has to leave you wondering, and McCormack does that in ... Read more