A Novel

Book - 2015
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Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams. She is also driven by the desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2015
Edition: 1st ed
Description: 266 p. : map ; 23 cm
ISBN: 9781554682942
Branch Call Number: Lind
Additional Contributors: Lindberg, Tracey. Birdie


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SCL_Justin Mar 11, 2019

It took me the first third of the book to get my head wrapped around the disjointed chronology that Birdie is dreaming her way through, but once that framework got established and started collecting details I really liked this story. It's a painful story but the characters were well-created. I've heard it described as magical realism but I don't really think it was. The dreamscape was more of a narrative tool than part of the story to my mind at least. Anyway. I quite liked it.

Jun 20, 2017

Barely readable. Highly affected style detracts, rather than adds, to the story.

May 23, 2017

It took me 100 pages to really connect to Bernice but from then, all my feelings and heart were engaged. It's an amazing book that I felt in my hands, heart and skin.

lydia_holmes221 Apr 26, 2017

How to put into words a book that affected me so deeply.

This is an achingly beautiful book. It hurts, but it hurts in such a beautiful way.

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg is about a woman named Birdie, a half-Cree woman who spends a lot of time in Edmonton, Alberta and also B.C. Having just recently moved to Canada I really wanted to read this book because I wanted something that was set in Canada. Not only that but it was written by a woman from the As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree and Kelly Lake Cree community.

This book is nonlinear. Sometimes, this book will not make sense. But I think the magical realism adds so much. In fact, I daresay that this is the greatest and smoothest integration of magical realism in writing I have ever seen.

There is so much Cree language in this book and so much lore and so much fable but it never excludes, never confuses, never lets you feel alone.

My favourite aspect of the book (as if I hadn't said enough already) were the female characters. This is a book by a woman about women. All of the characters, Birdie, Aunt Val, Freda, Lola, Maggie, they're all wonderfully complex and layered.

What I think I appreciate most is Lindberg's ability to write characters differently depending on who is narrating the chapter. She writes so easily through different character's perspectives and I love that I as a reader got to see so many facets of one character.

Apr 13, 2017

Award-winning academic writer Tracey Lindberg’s debut novel Birdie caught my eye with it’s gorgeous cover image of an Aboriginal woman, which I would later learn is a reproduction of George Littlechild’s work Modern Girl, Traditional Mind Set. And “gorgeous Aboriginal woman” is an image that the CBC Canada Reads 2016 Nominee returns to again and again, cutting through the colonial ideals of beauty to the heart and spirit of the novel’s women in order to outline the gorgeousness in their various kinds of strength and their care for one another.

The novel’s protagonist, Bernice (or Birdie as she prefers to be called when she feels she’s earned it), grows up in the fictional Little Loon First Nation reserve in Alberta before moving to Edmonton in her twenties, and finally following her dreamy crush on Jesse from The Beachcombers and ending up in Gibsons, B.C. In her apartment over the bakery where she works, Bernice’s body falls into a deep sleep while her mind soars in exploration of her past. With her boss Lola, her Aunt Val, and her cousin Skinny Freda keeping watch, Bernice embarks on an internal quest to find wellness.

The biggest strength of the novel is the full-colour depictions of its characters as Bernice sees them. Each is a fully realized colour portrait of a person, complete with imperfections, often devastating ones, that Bernice forgives without knowing there was any forgiving necessary. There are countless ways the people in her life have failed her, but Bernice never once condemns or shames them for being exactly the kinds of people they are. She chooses instead to accept them, or protect them, or simply to love them.

Read the rest of my review

Mar 06, 2017

This was a remarkable and memorable book, one of the best I read in 2016. Highly recommend this to anyone who loves a beautiful book with a slow pace and rich character development. Sad but so real - no wonder it was a Canada Reads finalist.

Jan 30, 2017

Every now and then, I would read a line that hit home, that I related to. Otherwise, it was very difficult to follow the people coming in and out of Birdie's story. They were never clearly introduced to the reader. I felt like I kept hoping, wanting for some spark to inspire change and it was trudging and hard and riddled with despair. I know these stories are important and need to be shared but the writing was so fragmented that the power was lost and it failed to engage me.

Nov 19, 2016

I havent read this book yet, but I did read the 8 inch thick testimonies on the people from my reserve who were sent to residential school. I have listened to numerous elders tell their stories about residential school, day school & convent school over the last 45+ yrs.
I listened to my mother talk about the priest asking her mother to go to town to get her two cousins clothes & luggage & new suits to wear prior to being sent to residential school cause their mother died & the husband was busy working logs down the Gatineau & the grandparents were deemed UNFIT to care for the two boys.

The younger died of TB given to him at residential school at age 7 & her other cousin, lost his wife to divorce due to drink, his child to social services & his life on HWY 105. He was a quiet man, taught my daughter to trap when she was 12 which she still - at 34 fills the pots of elders with partridge & rabbit during the long winter months.

The ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLES report states quite clearly the case against residential schools -to quote Scrooge : are there no prisons are there no workhouses..

IRENE FAVEL gave testimony about the priests baby & the school furnace..

There have been 32 child mass grave sites uncovered so far in Canada, most of them on Catholic-run native residential school grounds.

& Maisy Shaw didnt stand a chance against the huge, principal who kicked her down the stairs at the United Church residential school in Port Alberni:

residential schools : Volume 1 Chapter 10

JudeLee Oct 04, 2016

This book has a very important message, but it is lost in poor writing and editing. It was so confusing with regards to time changes, character introduction and overlapping. I wish it had been more sequential and logical.

Sep 25, 2016

Couldn't get into it - one of those books, like "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" that people rave about but I found unreadable. I tried to appreciate the First Nation vibe because of white-person guilt, but ended up skimming.

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