Read This, Then That: Groundhog Day Special

February 2, 2016

As we were reading through some of the novels on All Lit Up, we’ve started to notice things seeming a little...similar. Almost as if plots and themes have been...repeating themselves. We’re hoping this unseasonably warm winter (at least in southern Ontario) means that Groundhog Day has been made redundant, but if not, here’s the record of what we’ve come across (because if we wake up to “I’ve Got You, Babe” one more time, so help us!).

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As we were reading through some of the novels on All Lit Up, we’ve started to notice things seeming a little...similar. Almost as if plots and themes have been...repeating themselves. We’re hoping this unseasonably warm winter (at least in southern Ontario) means that Groundhog Day has been made redundant, but if not, here’s the record of what we’ve come across (because if we wake up to  “I’ve Got You, Babe” one more time, so help us!).

These stories of small towns or suburbs adjacent-to big towns, of children struggling to understand what adults simply ignore, of emerging from others’ shadows, all have elements in common. But, of course, there are differences – differences a little less subtle than the one’s in Bill Murray’s own perpetual day.

All This Town Remembers’ Adam is dealing with his own immediate tragedy twenty-five years after the death of his best friend, Joey. When the CBC comes to make a film about teenage hockey star Joey’s life, the town is far from moving on while Adam, having suffered an accident that has disrupted the integrity of his memories, struggles to remember. The minutiae of his married life, the motions of small towns in winter, and the intangible mess that is wasted potential all haunt this novel from Sean Johnston (Gaspereau Press).

northeast

Marriage also comes into play in Wendy McGrath’s North East (NeWest Press), a hearkening to the changes going on in 1960s Edmonton viewed through the eyes of a young girl. She witnesses the impending dissolution of her parents’ marriage, learns of the poverty they’d escaped from the rural town they’d come from after a visit with her grandparents. The looming strife that permeates her story is broken-up with a child’s victories, like visits to the drive-in.

townthatdrowned

Riel Nason’s fourteen-year-old protagonist Ruby Carson, of her novel The Town that Drowned (Goose Lane Editions) also tries to understand her surroundings amidst changes in the town and her own near-death accident. This time, the accident gives her an unusual pre-cognition of the town under water – something that could come true if a proposed dam is built downstream. Also, it’s set in the 1960s. Starting to feel February Seconded, yet?

While we know that it’s easy to draw comparisons with plots, it also speaks to these author’s talents: none of these three books are anywhere near the same (except, of course, in that they’re great). Much like Bill Murray’s Phil Connors, the same is only the same when you write it that way – there’s a million stories to tell with the same setting, plot, and characters.


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