Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, c2014.
Now this book was just a crazy read -- hilarious, dark, feminist, and totally entertaining. I've had this on my TBR for a while, but have only now got a copy in hand. I eagerly started it, noticing from the author bio that Dawn Dumont is a stand-up comic, which shows in this story. She's also Plains Cree, and from my home province of Saskatchewan, so I was also interested in the setting -- a reservation in Saskatchewan.
Rose Okanese is overweight, with two kids and a deadbeat of a husband who has just run off with her cousin - which means she is also suddenly carless, and thus jobless. She heads down to the band office for help, and runs into the new chief, her high school crush Taylor . Somehow she also gives the impression that she's a runner, in training for the reserve's annual 10K marathon, held in just four months. And with her reluctance to lose face, she has no choice but to begin training.
Her newfound confidence and running skill come in useful in ways she could never have expected, as her daughter Sarah and Sarah's best friend Ronnie somehow awaken a vengeful female spirit who possesses all the women on the reserve, with the exception of Rose, her children, and Ronnie's mother Jane. Rose must fight back against this hungry and violently anti-man spirit, luring her away through the woods on a wild, frantic run at one point.
With the help of her own mother's spirit and her own inability to take herself too seriously, Rose saves the community. But she can't help herself from always commenting on what's going on around her; she has, you might say, a problem with focus. The writing is pretty straightforward in this book, it doesn't have an elaborate literary style. It's more about the characters and the cheesy horror film plot in the end. It's hilarious -- Rose's asides were cracking me up -- and also uplifting in its look at friendships, the power of mother love, and personal growth.
Since this is the start of Christmas week, I'll also share a tidbit from near the end, when Rose is leading the insurrection against the possessed women of the reserve, which occurs quite late in the year. This is typical of her attention span:
The house was humid with the smoke. Rose smelled mint, lavender, and something else she didn't recognize. It was sweet and cloying and slightly burnt her nostrils. Jane sat at her table, a rolled smoke in one hand and her hunting knife in the other. Her ashtray was overflowing onto the red and green tablecloth. Rose noted the poinsettia design.
"I gotta start my Christmas shopping!" Rose blurted out.
Sarah turned her head and performed the slowest, most tired eye roll Rose had ever witnessed.
"I always get so behind and then I'm running from store to store on Christmas Eve," Rose babbled on. "I keep wanting to try online shopping but then I'd have to get the Internet and I'm not even sure they have it down my road. Also, what happens if you buy the wrong size -- do you send it back? And who pays for that? What if it's something big like a fridge? I mean, I couldn't afford to mail a fridge."
Everyone stared at her.
"How about focusing on the end of the world right now?" Monty suggested.
I enjoyed reading this: for farcical humour with a leavening of sentiment, and a large dollop of the supernatural, this one is a good bet.