Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Starlight

By Lynn Willoughby

Starlight ~ Richard Wagamese

I have been a Wagamese fan since I read “Ragged Company”.  Then I read everything else he had written. Sadly, this will be his last book as he died on March 10, 2017 – just before he was able to complete the draft of this novel.  I believe this book is his greatest legacy, as it is a wonderful counterpoint to all the sad and tragic stories about the “Sixties Scoop” of native children.

This is a fantastic read.  I was hooked from the beginning and the tension never let up.  It begins with Frank Starlight returning home with the urn of “the old man”, to the Nechako Valley in BC, in 1976.  As always, the descriptions of the wind, the sky, the birds and wildlife, the people, are true Wagamese.   “…began the slow, slumped walk to the porch and the house and the rustic simplicity of a bed, a quilt, and dreams wove from the experience of passing through a day, satisfied at the scuffed and worn feel at its edges.”

Emmy and her daughter, Winnie, are on the run from an unbelievably abusive man.  Emmy’s story tears at your heart.  Cadotte is pure evil and not the first such man in Emmy’s life.  She admits to bad choices, but an abusive father, then life as an orphan in the foster system where she felt worthless and dirty, were beyond her control.  

We know their paths will cross.  We know that Starlight’s tranquil life of hard work on the farm will bring Emmy some peace.  We don’t know that Eugene Roth, Starlight’s hired man, will be funny, gentle, understanding. He came from an abusive home himself.  He provides a refreshing lightness and a sense of humour.  He has a marvelous ability to read people, and the ability to see a situation from a different angle than most others.

Wagamese’s prose is a gift.  “The old man had no truck with churches of religions of any sort…The land’s my deepest wish, my wildest dream, the only prayer and the only temple I’m ever going to need.”

Read this book if you love Canadian authors.

  • Indian Horse
  • Medicine Walk
  • ……..and several others

Who Knew?

More than one third of food bank users across Canada were children in 2016.  About one in seven of those using shelters in Canada are children.

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