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A captivating magical realist read set in the Pacific Northwest area of British Columbia, 500 miles north of Vancouver. in the small town of Kitamaat on First Peoples' land. It’s about young Haisla woman Lisamarie, who sets out to find her brother, lost and presumed dead while fishing on coastal waterways. It moves back and time, depicting her sometimes troubled coming of age in the town, weaving in traditional stories of the spirit world with contemporary Haisla culture. The author is of Haisla and Heiltsuk heritage.
I enjoyed this book greatly but agree with some of the other reviews. The ending felt a bit rushed.
However, it is incredibly rich and deep. It covers a lot of ground relating to issues still being lived by indigenous youth. The descriptions of the landscapes and wildlife made me feel that I was seeing it as I was reading.
The story opens with the fact that the brother of the narrator is missing at sea and then goes on to reflect on the family life prior to this event. I enjoyed this book though the narrator plunges into being a teenage runaway to Vancouver, living drunk and stupid for two years because her grandmother died. This doesn't ring true as her parents were perfectly nice and supportive all her life and this event shouldn't have pushed anyone into such an extreme reaction. The novel did a good job of describing a young person’s perspective of native life, BC wilderness, etc. The ending has a twist in that it suggests why and how the young man went missing but doesn't outright state that's what happened.
This book was really good for the most part, but I am not going to sugar coat it. The ending sucks. The book is split into four parts with part one and two taking up the majority of the novel and parts three and four taking up a very tiny end part. For the majority of the book the characters were interesting as well as the plot, I liked the shift in perspective and the authors writing style, however its like the author gave up and had something better to do than finish the novel. The book is about a indigenous girl named Lisa and her life as well as her family. They are dealing with the loss of her brother, and the story of her teen years is told through a series of flashbacks. The story is really interesting from the point of view of a first nations girl showing many different stigmas that surround her community. There are many sad points in her life. This is all good until the end which offers no closure to the reader in terms of the plot, and what closure is received is cryptic and metaphoric.
When I finished reading this book my only reaction was "Are you kidding me?!", or maybe "You can't be serious?!". I liked the book well enough while I was reading it (it's divided into four parts, and Part One was so long that I gave up for two months before I started reading again), but the ending just ruined it for me. No spoilers, but there's no conclusion. None. The book just ends without wrapping up the most important parts. I feel like if I read any more of her books I'll skip to the end to check that there is an end before I start reading. I like her writing style, and the characters were awesome (especially Cookie, who gets the best line in the book, in my opinion) but the ending...
This book is fine, but it didn't captivate me. I didn't get attached to the main character (the narrator). I'm not sure whether it's because it was presented almost as a memoir so that you're not living through the events with her - or if it's because, while lots of things happen, nothing is dwelt upon. What I'd have thought were major events in a person's life get a page or two and then she just moves on. Maybe that's the point but, if so, I guess I'm just the wrong audience for this book.
Heart-breaking and bittersweet, haunting and intriguing, Monkey Beach is a unique coming-of-age story set in the First Nations village of Kitamaat, on BC's north coast. This story provides insight into the culture and traditions of the Haisla people and the contemporary struggles of First Nations young people.
Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach uses the meander and musings of a Haisla teenager to illustrate the frustration of First Nations youth and the difficulty in reconciling Native culture with a colonial infrastructure that seems to be morally bankrupt. The book is—appropriate to many teens at one time or another—disjointed, confused, simply misinformed in places, poignant in others, grasping at magical solutions to everyday problems, depressingly simplistic at times and morbidly amusing at others. It was a struggle in places. In others, it was absorbing. The magical realism was extreme and at times seemed more gothic than aboriginal. Still, I think this is an important book. It's important that Ms Robinson's voice be heard
Shifts a lot in writing style, but overall is a good read. Lots of interesting cultural aspects which is nice. Would definitely recommend this and am glad I read it :)
The star rating is for me personally.
My feelings about this book are mixed. I thought it was interesting and informative. I liked the characters and most especially the setting. But I did find it quite choppy and a little depressing.
The story is told by Lisamarie, she tells us of her uncle the activist who can’t seem to make a life her parents find acceptable, of her brother and his obsession with swimming, of her grandmother who teaches her about tradition. We learn of the tragedies of her life (of which there are many) and are left with a little bit of hope, but not much.
The story was good but difficult to get engaged in.
Once again, Eden Robinson has portrayed her native community with honesty, humour and intelligence. (Traplines, her first collection of stories, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.) This novel focuses on the northern coast of B.C., in the Haisla territory near Kitamaat, where Lisamarie and her family are coming to terms with the news that Jimmy, her younger brother, is missing at sea. Through flashbacks and spirit insights, Lisamarie looks at her life and begins to understand past events; to understand that meeting and leaving, living and dying come at their own time and in their own way.
This book features a gutsy heroine who is torn between the spirit world and her physical reality as she desperately tries to save her brother. It has a spooky, dream-like quality to it that is eerie as well as beautiful.
Brilliant. Thought it started out slow, but really glad I kept reading because it gets more and more interesting as the book goes on. I was getting serious shivers down my spine toward the end. Writing style was creative and engaging- I especially liked how memories and events unfolded.
Fabulous book! With a captivating combination of humour and seriousness, along with a bit of the supernatural, I had a tough time putting this book down. Monkey Beach is a great book to read closely as there are quite a few details that could be missed--it's definitely more than a typical coming-of-age story.
This was a great book - especially for anyone from Vancouver Island and can relate to these memories!
I liked this book, serious subjects but a good story with a balance of the modern and traditions of this community.