Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach

Book - 2000 | 1st ed. --
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From the winner of the Winifred Holtby Prize: a rich and haunting story of a family on the edge of heartbreak. Monkey Beach is a breathtaking novel - and the first ever published by a Haisla writer.

Jimmy Hill is a 17-year-old swimmer and Olympic hopeful with everything going for him: talent, charm, and devastating good looks. Much sought out by local boy-chasers, Jimmy dates a different girl virtually each week until he falls in love with Karaoke, the tough-as-nails village beauty. And then comes the horrifying phone call: Jimmy has vanished at sea.

Left behind is Lisamarie, Jimmy's wayward older sister who has carved out a delicate peace with her family at last, including the brother she too often casually wished would disappear. Through her we meet the unforgettable Hills: her loving parents, struggling to marry their Haisla heritage with Western ways; her uncle Mick, Native-rights activist and Elvis fan; her self-reliant grandmother Ma-ma-oo, guardian of tradition. But Lisamarie has other advisors less tangible or trustworthy: ghosts, Sasquatches, and animal spirits that weave their lessons through the book.

Monkey Beach is a spellbinding voyage - one that gives full scope to Robinson's renowned ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush, living wilderness as by its colourful characters, Monkey Beach is a startling coming-of-age story, and a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, c2000
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780676970753
Branch Call Number: FIC/ROB 4565fi 1


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Tigard_AnnmarieA Feb 24, 2021

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.

Feb 11, 2021

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.

Nov 27, 2017

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.

Oct 17, 2017

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.

claralex800 Sep 16, 2017

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...

Aug 15, 2017

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.

Nov 04, 2015

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.

brianreynolds Jul 26, 2015

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

AmberKlassen May 07, 2015

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.

Apr 01, 2015

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.

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Oct 17, 2017

Sexual Content: Rape scene

Oct 17, 2017

Violence: Fight scenes

Oct 17, 2017

Coarse Language: minor swears


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Oct 17, 2017

Lisa is living in a coastal community in BC called Kitamaat, which has a high native population. It is a coming of age story and starts with the reader learning of the disappearance and suspected death of the main character's brother Jimmy. The main character Lisa then begins going through a series of flashbacks detailing her teen years and life with her family up until this point. Strewn throughout the novel are more 'present' settings where Lisa moves the story forward by finding out more information about her brother. Eventually the flash backs and the present merge to come to the ending, which is terrible. We don't really find out if Jimmy lives or dies, although we do find out that he kills a family friend for raping his niece, who is Jimmy's girlfriend. Lisa is looking for Jimmy on Monkey Beach, the novels name sake and maybe gets eaten by a Sasquatch? Once again the ending of this novel is terrible.

Lisa comes of age in Kitamaat, B.C., where her Haida community includes uncles involved in First Nations warrior movements, industrious grandmothers with one foot in the grave and the other in various spirit worlds, and the long-armed specter of residential schools.

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Oct 17, 2017

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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