The Break

The Break

Book - 2016
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Winner, First Novel Award

Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Winner, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

Winner, McNally Robinson Book of the Year

A Canada Reads 2017 finalist

National Bestseller

2016 Governor General's Literary Award Finalist

2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Finalist

National Post 99 Best Books of the Year

CBC Best Canadian Debut Novels 2016

Globe and Mail Best 100 Books of 2016

Quill & Quire Book of the Year

Kobo Best Books of the Year

Walrus Magazine The Best Books of 2016

49th Shelf Books of the Year

When Stella, a young M#65533;tis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break -- a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house -- she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim -- police, family, and friends -- tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a M#65533;tis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette's abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi Press, 2016
ISBN: 9781487001117
Branch Call Number: FIC VERME K


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Aug 09, 2017

I did not expect to love this book but after a choppy start, I could not put it down. A good book teaches and this book certainly qualifies. I was struck by many aspects but was most impressed with the role of Grandmother in the cultural upbringing of girls in the native community. It made me realize that by wrecking an entire generation of traditional grandmothers, the white settlers broke a chain that may never be repaired. It is a sad story from the many perspectives we encounter in this book, but also uplifting in the spirit and courage of strong women who are doing their best.
And the writing was wonderful. This author nailed the dialogue!

Jul 31, 2017

Set in Winnipeg’s North End, The Break begins with Stella, a young Métis mother, witnessing a violent attack outside her home and calling the police. What follows is a haunting story, from multiple perspectives, of the people connected to the victim, as we learn about the events leading up to the attack, and as friends and family grapple with the consequences and whys of the violence. Overall, this is a heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful story about strong women, whose relationship to each other helps them to cope and heal from the violent realities of their lives, and the healing power of family and tradition.

Jun 29, 2017

Read the whole review here

This book has been getting a lot of press and with good reason, but unfortunately, I’m the type of person who sees something draped with accolades and thinks it can’t be that good.

Katherena Vermette’s debut novel The Break is good; there’s no doubt about it. Vermette’s background is in poetry and it comes through in the beautiful ways she constructs her sentences. She’s been praised for her ability to pace plot and develop character. She’s being congratulated for speaking about racism in society.

May 16, 2017

The Break, did not hold my attention. I've read several books with the theme First Nations women. The stories are all similar with different women taking the lead into violence, running away, sex, bad language and abuse.

Seems to be to be a common theme, none end far as I know. I seldom make it to the end.

Apr 28, 2017

Poorly written, reminded me of a grade school reader. I would recommend this book to preteen girls, except the profanities, drugs, sex, violence and poor role models make it entirely inappropriate. PS: I grew up in Winnipeg and am familiar with the North End.

Mar 31, 2017

The Break by Katherena Vermette is a multithreaded novel about a crime that takes place in Winnipeg. A young Native woman is attacked in the February night. There’s a witness who calls the police. So it’s a story about a crime, but it’s definitely not a procedural.

We get to know the family around the incident through a number of different viewpoints, including a couple of outsiders (a girl who’s escaped detention and a police officer). The story mostly takes place over less than a week, but is filled with flashbacks that give it a lot more depth than that.

It was a great book. And it totally should have won Canada Reads 2017 because it is a book Canadians (as a colonialist racist political entity) need to read.

I often talk about how for me, the practical reason for reading fiction is to build empathy. If you get into the heads of people who are different from you, you help expand what your world can be, and it makes you better at understanding and helping people with different experiences from you. The Break is totally going to be my go-to example for that. Vermette gets us into heads really deftly and her descriptions were incisive and made me shudder. We feel for the weaknesses and we feel the strengths everyone shows.

Mar 17, 2017

I give this book 10 out of 10. I hope it wins Canada Reads. It has so much to think about. So layered. Thank you for writing this book.

Feb 24, 2017

I didn't expect to love this book because I rarely appreciate the books that Heather the CEO from Chapters-Indigo endorses, but this book was a great read. I found it to be a bit choppy, because the perspective shifts from the point of view of the various characters and there are a lot of characters involved. What I found most interesting was that all of the adults in the story were trying to do their best to protect the children but were hamstrung by the secrecy of their children and the environment (peer group) in which their children had to grow up and sometimes by their own ineptitude. Outsiders were impeded by a lack of trust from the community. Some of the lack of trust was earned (prejudice) and part was due to the long term drilled in belief that an outsider can't be trusted.
I think what I most appreciated was how well it developed how a culture of mistrust developed in the Metis community and how it gets maintained. Even white guys who are in the inner circle can be turned on in times of stress. There are invisible walls between people even under good conditions.

Feb 11, 2017

My first thoughts are very preachy, then I realized this pertains to all children. Then I realize that all children don't live in the places these children do. The fact that these mothers do as well raising their children as they do in these conditions is a miracle. Strong family ties seem to be the only saving grace.

Feb 03, 2017

This book was gripping from the very start. For me, it was also gut-wrenching.

On the surface, this is a story about a violent sexual assault, but it’s so much deeper than that. Vermette dives into the lives of each of the central characters (the victim’s family, the perpetrator, and one of the cops investigating the incident). We learn, quickly, that this is also about family, society, hope, and being Native. Each and every one of the characters has been shaped by the pain of assault, broken relationships, the death of loved ones, being Native, and family connections (or, the lack thereof). It makes for a stunning, tragic and beautiful narrative.

Something that I haven’t seen mentioned in other reviews is how Vermette tackled the perpetrator. She didn’t present this person as evil, but as a victim of circumstance. Yes, she has chosen a life of violence and her actions were terrible, but we learn, through the book, that she was shaped by a broken mother and an abusive home. She’s tough and mean, but I couldn’t help wanting to reach out to her the same way I wanted to reach out to all the other characters. What set her apart was that she didn’t have the same support the others had, so she closed herself off to love, choosing gang life and loyalties instead.

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Dec 21, 2016

Somehow the act of making food always feels like doing something when we are helpless to do anything else.

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