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Free Press Book Club

To help ease some of the isolation-related boredom, the Winnipeg Free Press has started a monthly book club which will run completely online and is open to anyone and everyone to join.

Each month, the Free Press will choose a book and share it on their website, as well as in an email to those who have registered to participate. They will send a couple of follow up notes to check in on your progress and suggest a few discussion topics and questions to think about as you go.

At the end of the month, participants will gather in a livestream book club meeting, hosted by the Free Press books editor, Ben Sigurdson, or one of us from McNally Robinson, as well as the author of the book.

Youíll be able to submit questions ahead of time, or drop them into one of the live chat boxes during the meeting. (And donít worry, the Free Press provide an easy-to-access link to the stream, so all you have to do is click.)

Below is a list of recent Book Club picks, including this month's choice. Visit the Winnipeg Free Press' website to find out which is the current pick.

Ľ This Book Club is free, although pre-registration is required. Register online here.


Hey, Good Luck Out There

- Georgia Toews

Hardcover $27.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $24.30

Subversive, captivating and vividly attuned to both the extraordinary and the mundane, Georgia Toews' debut novel Hey, Good Luck Out There is a furious and hilarious journey through the relentless, soul-baring world of addiction and recovery.

After an amazingly unpleasant pizza party intervention, our twenty-two-year-old narrator checks into a women's rehab facility, confined "for her own safety" without meaningful contact with the outside world. For escape, she and her fellow patients have only stilted phone calls with their disappointed and concerned parents, daily meetings in the form of inspirational speeches from wealthy ex-alcoholics and lifestyle gurus, visits to the doctor, and clandestine trips to a dingy internet cafe. For our narrator, a neon-pink journal gifted by her grandmother with gold embossed letters on the front--"Let Them Eat Cake!"--is her only comfort amid an endless carousel of strangeness and unease.
 
When she is discharged from rehab after thirty punishing days, returned to Toronto's streets without resources, a job, or an apartment, and tasked with staying clean despite a seemingly bottomless urge to give up, the book asks: What next? What happens in the aftermath of your lowest low? Alone, and at war with an intrusive inner creature, at last she begins the process of making a home for herself in the world.
 
Hey, Good Luck Out There introduces a dynamic new voice in fiction: Georgia Toews is at once unguardedly truthful, gritty, and darkly funny, with a sardonic, wholly original sense of the absurd.

The Full Catastrophe

- Meira Cook

Trade paperback $24.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $22.49

A compassionate and funny novel about defining yourself, the communities that support us, and the journeys that secrets propel.
Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy born with intersex traits, would be happy to be left alone. Living with his artist mother in a derelict loft in downtown Winnipeg, perpetually wondering about the father who abandoned him, and tormented in school because of his differences, Charlie navigates the assorted catastrophes of his life. He's helped along by the love of his beloved grandfather, Oscar, and the makeshift family who surround him: his mother's best friend; a couple of elderly shut-in neighbours; a mysterious girl in his class who has secrets of her own; and his desperately needy and perpetually hungry dog, Gellman.
When a school project leads him to discover that Oscar never had a bar mitzvah, Charlie decides to right the historical wrong and arrange a belated ceremony. But this quest will be more than he bargained for, and meanwhile everyone from his doctor to his Ancestry Studies teacher keeps insisting that Charlie needs to learn to tell his own story.
Margaret Laurence Award winner Méira Cook's The Full Catastrophe is a story of psychological complexity, tenderness, and humour.

The Gunsmith's Daughter

- Margaret Sweatman

Trade paperback $24.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $22.46

1971. Lilac Welsh lives an isolated life with her parents at Rough Rock on the Winnipeg River. Her father, Kal, stern and controlling, has built his wealth by designing powerful guns and ammunition. He's on the cusp of producing a .50 calibre assault rifle that can shoot down an airplane with a single bullet, when a young stranger named Gavin appears at their door, wanting to meet him before enlisting for the war in Vietnam. Gavin's arrival sparks an emotional explosion in Lilac's home and inspires her to begin her own life as a journalist, reporting on the war that's making her family rich.

The Gunsmith's Daughter is both a coming-of-age story and an allegorical novel about Canada-US relations. Psychologically and politically astute, and gorgeously written, Margaret Sweatman's portrait of a brilliant gunsmith and his eighteen-year-old daughter tells an engrossing story of ruthless ambition, and one young woman's journey toward independence.

Life in the City of Dirty Water

- Clayton Thomas-Muller

Hardcover $29.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $26.96

*FINALIST FOR 2022 CANADA READS*
*SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 J.W. DAFOE BOOK PRIZE*
*SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 MANITOBA BOOK AWARDS' MCNALLY ROBINSON BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD*





NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A gritty and inspiring memoir from renowned Cree environmental activist Clayton Thomas-Muller, who escaped the world of drugs and gang life to take up the warrior's fight against the assault on Indigenous peoples' lands--and eventually the warrior's spirituality.


There have been many Clayton Thomas-Mullers: The child who played with toy planes as an escape from domestic and sexual abuse, enduring the intergenerational trauma of Canada's residential school system; the angry youngster who defended himself with fists and sharp wit against racism and violence, at school and on the streets of Winnipeg and small-town British Columbia; the tough teenager who, at 17, managed a drug house run by members of his family, and slipped in and out of juvie, operating in a world of violence and pain.

But behind them all, there was another Clayton: the one who remained immersed in Cree spirituality, and who embraced the rituals and ways of thinking vital to his heritage; the one who reconnected with the land during summer visits to his great-grandparents' trapline in his home territory of Pukatawagan in northern Manitoba.

And it's this version of Clayton that ultimately triumphed, finding healing by directly facing the trauma that he shares with Indigenous peoples around the world. Now a leading organizer and activist on the frontlines of environmental resistance, Clayton brings his warrior spirit to the fight against the ongoing assault on Indigenous peoples' lands by Big Oil.

Tying together personal stories of survival that bring the realities of the First Nations of this land into sharp focus, and lessons learned from a career as a frontline activist committed to addressing environmental injustice at a global scale, Thomas-Muller offers a narrative and vision of healing and responsibility.

The Accidental Veterinarian

- DVM Philipp Schott

Trade paperback $20.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $18.00

Cats, dogs, people -- funny and heartbreaking stories from a pet veterinarian With insight and humor, Dr. Philipp Schott shares tales from the unlikely path he took into his career of veterinary science and anecdotes from his successful small-animal clinic. Dr. Schott brings to his writing the benefit of many years of expertise. Wisdom he imparts on readers includes the best way to give your cat a pill, how to prevent your very handy dog from opening a fridge, and how to handle your fish when it has half-swallowed another. Through these and other experiences, Dr. Schott also learned that veterinary medicine is as much, if not more, about the people as it is the animals. And he will have you laughing and crying as you embark on this journey of discovery with him.

You Don't Have To Die In The End

- Anita Daher

Young adult softcover $14.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $13.46

Eugenia Grimm is a tough girl living in a tough town at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. She drinks and fights and pushes against expectations. She is also hurting. After her father died by suicide on her eighth birthday, her older brothers drifted away and her mother up and left when she turned 14, Eugenia has not made the best choices. After a last-straw violent incident and faced with the possibility of incarceration, she is sentenced to time at an Intensive Support and Supervision Program located at a remote mountain ranch. There, she begins to make connections, explore difficult truths, and might even turn things around--until a series of events pull her into a dark spiral she may not have the strength to resist.

Persephone's Children

- Rowan McCandless

Trade paperback $22.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.69

Manitoba Book Award winner

Finalist for 2022 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction o Co-Winner of 2022 Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book

After years of secrecy and silence, Rowan McCandless leaves an abusive relationship and rediscovers her voice and identity through writing.

She was never to lie to him. She was never to leave him; and she was never supposed to tell.

Persephone's Children chronicles Rowan McCandless's odyssey as a Black, biracial woman escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship. Through a series of thematically linked and structurally inventive essays, McCandless explores the fraught and fragmented relationship between memory and trauma. Multiple mythologies emerge to bind legacy and loss, motherhood and daughterhood, racism and intergenerational trauma, mental illness and resiliency.

It is only in the aftermath that she can begin to see the patterns in her history, hear the echoes of oppression passed down from unknown, unnamed ancestors, and discover her worth and right to exist in the world.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

The Strangers

- Katherena Vermette

Hardcover $29.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $26.96

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE ATWOOD GIBSON WRITERS' TRUST PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 MANITOBA BOOK AWARDS' CAROL SHIELDS WINNIPEG BOOK AWARD, MARGARET LAURENCE AWARD FOR FICTION, AND MCNALLY ROBINSON BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK


From the bestselling author of The Break comes a staggering intergenerational saga that explores how connected we are, even when we're no longer together--even when we're forced apart.

Cedar has nearly forgotten what her family looks like. Phoenix has nearly forgotten what freedom feels like. And Elsie has nearly given up hope. Nearly.

After time spent in foster homes, Cedar goes to live with her estranged father. Although she grapples with the pain of being separated from her mother, Elsie, and sister, Phoenix, she's hoping for a new chapter in her life, only to find herself once again in a strange house surrounded by strangers. From a youth detention centre, Phoenix gives birth to a baby she'll never get to raise and tries to forgive herself for all the harm she's caused (while wondering if she even should). Elsie, struggling with addiction and determined to turn her life around, is buoyed by the idea of being reunited with her daughters and strives to be someone they can depend on, unlike her own distant mother. These are the Strangers, each haunted in her own way. Between flickering moments of warmth and support, the women diverge and reconnect, fighting to survive in a fractured system that pretends to offer success but expects them to fail. Facing the distinct blade of racism from those they trusted most, they urge one another to move through the darkness, all the while wondering if they'll ever emerge safely on the other side. 

A breathtaking companion to her bestselling debut The Break, Vermette's The Strangers brings readers into the dynamic world of the Stranger family, the strength of their bond, the shared pain in their past, and the light that beckons from the horizon. This is a searing exploration of race, class, inherited trauma, and matrilineal bonds that--despite everything--refuse to be broken.

Moon of the Crusted Snow

- Waubgeshig Rice

Trade paperback $19.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $17.96

National Bestseller Winner of the 2019 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen Award Shortlisted for the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Shortlisted for the 2019/20 First Nation Communities READ Indigenous Literature Award 2020 Burlington Library Selection; 2020 Hamilton Reads One Book One Community Selection; 2020 Region of Waterloo One Book One Community Selection; 2019 Ontario Library Association Ontario Together We Read Program Selection; 2019 Women's National Book Association's Great Group Reads; 2019 Amnesty International Book Club Pick January 2020 Reddit r/bookclub pick of the month "This slow-burning thriller is also a powerful story of survival and will leave readers breathless." -- Publishers Weekly "Rice seamlessly injects Anishinaabe language into the dialogue and creates a beautiful rendering of the natural world ... This title will appeal to fans of literary science-fiction akin to Cormac McCarthy as well as to readers looking for a fresh voice in indigenous fiction." -- Booklist A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow. The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision. Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn.