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Joan Crate

Edmonton, NeWest Press, 1989. 295pp, paper, ISBN 0-920897-62-2 (cloth) $22.95, 0-920897-60-6 (paper) $12.95. (Nunatak Fiction series). CIP

Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Dion is a young woman with a half-native father; she has married a man from a traditional Greek background. She is having trouble coming to grips with her status as wife and mother of a young child. Even more troubling to her is the process of decision making that led to this point in life. Dion wants the things she has but cannot stop herself from taking chances, which cause her to risk losing everything she thinks she values. These "risks" include posing nude for an artist, helping smuggle drugs across the border, and a sensual encounter with a male stripper.

Visits with her formerly glamorous sister and with a traditional Greek wife help to establish her priorities, but it is really the stories from childhood told by her father that lead to the eventual resolution. Dion comes to realize that life consists of telling the traditional native stories, which provide guidance and continuity in life. Anyone who forgets the tales that underpin life is cast adrift and has no guidelines by which to order existence.

This is the first book in Newest's "Nunatak Fiction" offerings, which will include outstanding works by new western writers. The series is edited by Aritha van Herk and Rudy Wiebe, and the quality of the initial book is very high. The writing is excellent and the themes are engrossing and well woven together. The book was fascinating reading and it is recommended for grades 12 up as well as for adult readers. It should be in every Canadian public library and high school library.

Jerry McDonnell, F.E. Madill Secondary School, Wingham, Ont.
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