Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Providence Island by Gregor Robinson, reviewed by Cecilia-Anca Popescu

Dundurn Press, Toronto, March 2011, 216 pages, trade paperback, $21.99

Gregor Robinson’s protagonist, Ray Carry, took me on a fascinating journey to “the last wilderness,” as his father used to call the places up north by Hudson Bay, with “few roads, nothing but the dark forest and shambling beasts, the trickle of water in nameless lakes and muskeg, the sighing of the trees.”

Ray Carry returns to his family cottage for his dad’s funeral, but his trip becomes a troubled journey back in time as he searches for a conclusion to dramatic events that happened during his high school vacations.

Isn’t high school the most memorable time in our life? We all have tons to tell about it. But for Ray there is more, something that has haunted him for his entire adulthood, and the mystery builds with the flip of each page.

As a teen, Ray faced the usual dilemmas of growing up: the difference between true love and fascination, between making love and just having sex, and the question of whether anyone has the right to decide who one falls in love with. But Ray bears more than the usual scars of growing up. Because of his lack of experience, he failed to react in a critical situation, and the label of cowardice became a stigmata on Ray’s heart.

In a wonderful parabola, the narrative shows Ray reaching to his conclusion by gathering the strength to look back at the mutilated face of the legendary Indian spirit who has haunted the northern forests for more than one hundred years.

At the story’s end, tragedies from Ray’s past surface into the present in a powerful emotional arch and Ray realizes that “all three deaths were connected.”

Coincidently, I read this book on the day my daughter turned fifteen. As I devoured the last pages of Providence Island, about twenty teenagers were screaming and dancing to loud music in my basement, their revels reminding me that the arc from teen to adult is travelled endlessly.

Providence Island is available at your local book store or online here.Information about submitting to Dundurn Press here.

Cecilia-Anca Popescu writes about the drama of the expat, about her life experiences, and sometimes about her cats. You can read some of her poetry here and here.

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1 comment:

  1. I read Providence Island too. Great read!


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