Well, the Canada-wide, Battle-of-the-Books has concluded for another year. After much impassioned debate and some surprising twists, Ru by Kim Thuy, translated by Sheila Fischman, has emerged victorious as the Canadian book that most effectively breaks down barriers. All five contenders examine barriers that are prevalent in Canada and world-wide as well as address difficult topics. And the birds rained down by Jocelyne Saucier, defended by Martha Wainwright looks at assisted suicide. Intolerable: a Memoir of extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee, defended by Kristin Kreuk, discusses war and politics in the Middle East as well as life as a gay man trying to live in an intolerant country. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, defended by Craig Kielburger, addresses the history and treatment of native Canadians and what it means to be “Indian”. When everything feels like the movies by Raziel Reid, defended by Elaine Lui, is a young adult novel that follows the struggles, dreams and fears of a gender-bending, cross-dressing high school student. This controversial book has already won the 2014 Governor General’s award for Children’s Literature. And finally, Ru by Kim Thuy, defended by Cameron Bailey, addresses the hope and pain of the immigrant experience. Ultimately, this is the novel that has been chosen by the panel, narrowly beating out When everything feels like the movies.
This year’s debates were emotional and passionate. You can watch or listen to all four days of the debates at Canada Reads and make your own decision about which book should have been the winner. Or better yet, borrow all five books from the Caledon Public Library and then decide which one best addresses and breaks down barriers.