________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 2. . . .September 15, 2017


The Mosaic.

Nina Berkhout.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2017.
267 pp., hardcover & epub, $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55498-985-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-986-7 (epub).

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Janet Beauchamp.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Every single flower, plant, animal, person and pattern was composed of ammunition. There must have been tens of thousands of cartridges and casings on the walls, some shining like precious metals and some black, darkened by a blowtorch. And all around the ground were pyramids of ammo. Cartridges thin as cigarettes, thick as lipsticks, dozens of different shapes and sizes in a tangle of copper, lead, brass and steel. (p. 70).


Nina Berkhout’s novel The Mosaic is a book that I would not have picked up off the shelf as it does not fit the type of themes I usually read. I thought it was going to be a military story, but, instead, it was about many other things; art, PTSD, relationships and violence. I was surprised to find myself very engaged in the story. It was quite different than what I typically read, and I enjoyed the story.

     The main characters are an unexpected pair who come together as a result of required volunteer hours for school. Twyla, a high school student, volunteers to help out Gabriel who is a young veteran suffering from PTSD. Initially, Twla and her boyfriend Billy together visit the decommissioned nuclear missile silo where Gabriel is creating a mosaic out of ammunition, but eventually the connection between Gabriel and Twyla grows while the relationship between Twyla and boyfriend Billy wanes. This underlying drama keeps the reader’s interest as does some family drama as well.

     The Mosaic will interest all kinds of readers as there are so many different aspects to the story. Military folks, artists, small town residents, sociologists, psychologists etc. will find a connection to the story. Ultimately, the story progresses as Twyla and Gabriel enter “The Mosaic” in a contest held by MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art. The small town now has a new tourist attraction and not everybody is happy about it. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. Truly something for everyone.


Janet Beauchamp, a high school teacher, teacher-librarian and the mother of three girls, lives in L’Amable, ON.

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