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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

The Innocents / Michael Crummey

The Innocents - Michael Crummey

A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland's northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family's boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them.

As they fight for their own survival through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.


If you love beautiful language, this is the book for you. Crummey incorporates plenty of unique Newfoundland-isms into the text, but you can figure out what they mean quite easily from the context. I love language and words, so I found this new vocabulary to be quite intoxicating.

And what a story! A boy of 12 and a girl of 10 living in a remote cove of Newfoundland, orphaned and trying to carry on as they did when their parents were alive. The author got the premise of the story from an article in an old Newfoundland newspaper that featured two young people seeing off a clergyman with a gun in response to criticism (the girl was pregnant). In this novel, the children are raised by two people who seemed to barely speak, nor do they know how to read or write, no neighbours or relatives, no radio, no contact with the outside world. They are indeed innocents.

Crummey harkens back to the Genesis story: there are overtones of Cain and Abel in the story of Sennet Best and the brother that he seems to have murdered in order to gain the affections of Sarah, the children’s mother. And then of course Ada and Evered are completely ignorant about virtually everything, including sex. Can you imagine going through those turbulent teenage years with no clue what is happening to you? When Ada’s complete sex education consists of her mother’s warning, “Soon you’ll be getting your monthly visitor.”

The hardship they face and the challenges that they overcome are incredible. But you never know what you can do until you are faced with difficulty and they rise to the challenge. The triumph of the human spirit over ignorance.