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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.


Black Water

- by David A. Robertson

Hardcover $32.99 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $29.69

"An instant classic that demands to be read with your heart open and with a perspective widened to allow in a whole new understanding of family, identity, and love." --Cherie Dimaline

A son who grew up away from his Indigenous culture takes his Cree father on a trip to their family's trapline, and finds that revisiting the past not only heals old wounds but creates a new future.


The son of a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, David A. Robertson was raised with virtually no knowledge or understanding of his family's Indigenous roots. His father, Don, spent his early childhood on a  trapline in the bush northeast of Norway House, Manitoba, where his first teach was the land. When his family was moved permanently to a nearby reserve, Don was not permitted to speak Cree at school unless in secret with his friends and lost the knowledge he had been gifted while living on his trapline. His mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town with not a single Indigenous family in it. Then Don arrived, the new United Church minister, and they fell in love. 

Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA.

This Has Nothing to Do With You

- by Lauren Carter

Trade paperback $22.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.66

Winner of the 2020 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and the 2020 John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer

When Melony Barnett's mother commits a violent murder, Mel is left struggling with the loss of her parents and her future. For more than two years, she drifts around the continent, trying to carve out a life that has nothing to do with her past, before returning to her Northern Ontario home and adopting a rescue dog--a mastiff with a tragic history. As she struggles to help the dog heal and repair her relationship with her brother, Matt, she begins to uncover layers of secrets about her family --secrets that were the fuel for her mother's actions. This Has Nothing to Do With You is a compulsively readable novel that follows a dynamic cast of characters, revealing the complexity of the bonds that are formed through trauma and grief--with siblings, lovers, friends, and dogs.

All Our Relations

- by Tanya Talaga

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

Tanya Talaga, the bestselling author of Seven Fallen Feathers, calls attention to an urgent global humanitarian crisis among Indigenous Peoples -- youth suicide."Talaga's research is meticulous and her journalistic style is crisp and uncompromising. She brings each story to life, skillfully weaving the stories of the youths' lives, deaths, and families together with sharp analysis... The book is heartbreaking and infuriating, both an important testament to the need for change and a call to action." -- Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*"Talaga has crafted an urgent and unshakable portrait of the horrors faced by Indigenous teens going to school in Thunder Bay, Ontario... Talaga's incisive research and breathtaking storytelling could bring this community one step closer to the healing it deserves." -- Booklist *Starred Review*In this urgent and incisive work, bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga explores the alarming rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. From Northern Ontario to Nunavut, Norway, Brazil, Australia, and the United States, the Indigenous experience in colonized nations is startlingly similar and deeply disturbing. It is an experience marked by the violent separation of Peoples from the land, the separation of families, and the separation of individuals from traditional ways of life -- all of which has culminated in a spiritual separation that has had an enduring impact on generations of Indigenous children. As a result of this colonial legacy, too many communities today lack access to the basic determinants of health -- income, employment, education, a safe environment, health services -- leading to a mental health and youth suicide crisis on a global scale. But, Talaga reminds us, First Peoples also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism. Based on her Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series, All Our Relations is a powerful call for action, justice, and a better, more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples.

Here the Dark

- by David Bergen

Trade paperback $22.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.66

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE | A NEW YORK TIMES NEW & NOTEWORTHY BOOK | "His third appearance on the Giller shortlist ... affirms Bergen among Canada's most powerful writers. His pages light up; all around falls into darkness."--2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury | "David Bergen's command is breathtaking ... His work belongs to the world, and to all time. He is one of our living greats."--Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves From the streets of Danang, Vietnam, where a boy falls in with a young American missionary, to fishermen lost off the islands of Honduras, to the Canadian prairies, where a teenage boy's infatuation reveals his naiveté and an aging rancher finds himself smitten, the short stories in Here the Dark explore the spaces between doubt and belief, evil and good, obscurity and light. Following men and boys bewildered by their circumstances and swayed by desire, surprised by love and by their capacity for both tenderness and violence, and featuring a novella about a young woman who rejects the laws of her cloistered Mennonite community, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner David Bergen's latest deftly renders complex moral ambiguities and asks what it means to be lost--and how we might be found.

Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.

- by Jenny Heijun Wills

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

Winner of the 2020 Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book and the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction

A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered. Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy. Unsurprisingly, heartbreakingly, Wills found that her nascent relationships with her family were similarly fraught. Ten years later, Wills sustains close ties with her Korean family. Her Korean parents and her younger sister attended her wedding in Montreal, and that same sister now lives in Canada. Remarkably, meeting Jenny caused her birth parents to reunite after having been estranged since her adoption. Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole. Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women--sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces--Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child's removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.

Don't Try This at Home

- by Daria Salamon

Trade paperback $21.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $18.90

Rob Krause and Daria Salamon sold their car, rented out their Winnipeg home, and packed up their two young children to embark on a 12-month journey around the world. In this dual retelling of their ambitious year abroad, Don't Try This at Home chronicles the hilarious and sensational misadventures of a Canadian family as they travel across 15 different countries in the Southern Hemisphere. In an honest reflection on parenting, marriage, and living for a year on a tight budget, Krause and Salamon take readers through some of the world's most stunning vistas while meeting the challenges of foreign customs, broken-down buses, stomach bugs, personal loss, and their often less-than-enthusiastic children.

The Break

- by Katherena Vermette

Trade paperback $22.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $20.66

Winner of the 2017 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Awards. When Stella, a young Metis 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 Metis 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.