Growing up Canadian: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists (83)

This is a book about religion and global migration, with a specific focus on Canada.

In today’s world, the consequences and context of people relocating from one place with which they are familiar and in which they are embedded to another that is physically and culturally very different has taken on an abiding importance.

Human migration is nothing new in history. Rather the opposite is the case.  It is quite common since the second world war. The question takes on specific qualities, however, depending on the particularities of different times, different places, and circumstances. The context of late twentieth and early twenty-first century global society has its salient peculiarities.

Some of the more significant include:

  • Multi-directional and unprecedented migration flows that include almost all the inhabited parts of the globe, whether as places of origin, destination or both.
  • rapid, thickly distributed, and intensively utilized global means of communication ranging from air travel to electronic connections.
  • the use of those means of communication for a very wide variety of purposes, such as economic political, scientific, leisure, and religious.
  • a resulting thick social connectivity of virtually all parts of the world with all other parts.
  • significant processes of socio-structural and cultural homogenization across the globe.
  • Equally significant and simultaneous processes of social and cultural heterogenization which manifest themselves across several levels ranging from the individual and group to the national and global-regional.

This is a book that is thorough and scholarly about how particular subgroups of migrants in particular places learn to live in a new place.

This book will show the reader that religions today are in the process of globalization and global reconstruction. Those of the second generation participate in this process in a unique way given their position in their societies.

In the Canadian case, the young adults of Buddhist and Hindu background are thus far minimally involved in this reconstruction which is not to say that their parents will not pick up the slack or that the younger generation will not do so in the future.

For the Muslims, many are actively involved in this process, although it is difficult to say how they are doing things differently compared to their counterparts in other countries.

This is a book that should be widely read by all scholars, Canadians, and people who are just interested in the cultural diversity of our times.

I loved this book because I was able to sink my teeth into a bit of a theoretical read about a topic that I am quite passionate about!

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth



Posted in Author from Ontario, Culture in Canada, Empowerment, Educational book, book about social justice, Excellence, Cultural Diversity | Leave a comment

The Hunter and the Wild Girl – by Pauline Holdstock (82)

This is a haunting story about two outcasts who force an unlikely alliance. I usually don’t read stories like this. But I have made it a point this year to expand my horizons and read books that are outside of my comfort zone for the Book Mine Challenge.

In the high garrigue, the dense, unforgiving scrubland of southern France, a feral girl roams between villages and farmyards, stealing food and avoiding human contact.

When she is seen on one of her thieving mission in the village of Freyzus, she is pursued by the townspeople to the edge of a deep gorge, where she jumps and disappears – vanishing into village legend.

On the other side of the gorge, in an abandoned estate, Peyre Rouff, once known for his hunting skills, lives out a life of renunciation. In self-imposed exile, he focuses all of his attention on the intricate taxidermy he creates to keep his thoughts from wandering too close to the day he lost everything.

When the wild girl breaks into Peyre’s seclusion, their mutual estrangement from society offers a common bond. He provides her with food and shelter, while she brings light to places Peyre had thought were dark forever.

But the hunter’s carefully controlled patterns of life begin to unravel, and when the wider world learns of the girl’s presence at the estate, Peyre is forced to confront not only his choices and their consequences, but society itself.

This story is quite dark in places. However, the morale of the story is great. It is an unforgettable tale that affirms the persistence of life, the power of human connection and the fundamental urge to be free. These are all themes that we can relate to as being valuable.

I loved this story from beginning to end. If you want a good read that will keep you transfixed to the pages of the narrative, this book is a great weekend read, given that it is now fall and it kind of looks like winter is coming soon.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

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Acts of Kindness by Adam Mayers (81)

I just love this book! It is all about how to do random acts of kindness.

We always think that kindness is has to be BIG in order for it to count for anything. Of course, we live in a consumerist culture where money rules. However, there are so many other ways that we could show a kind gesture to our neighbour.

Small things can often mean a great deal to people. For the past five years or so, readers of the Toronto Star’s website has been telling one another that by sharing their stories in a feature called Acts of Kindness. The common thread is that a stranger helped when it was needed most, without thought of a reward and often without leaving a name.

Since its debut in December 004, Acts of Kindness has become a daily fixture at About four thousand stories have been submitted and two thousand have been published.

This book represents the best of the best–a collection of two hundred of the most memorable tales.

The stories are a reminder that goodness is non-denominational, non-political, and transferable across race and language. They also remind us that although our lives are full of hard realities, the smallest gesture can raise a spirit or lift a heart, and that the time to do it is now.

I loved the book from the beginning to end.

Rating: 5 stars


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What is Peace? By Wallace Edwards (80)

This is a wonderful picture book about a topic that is very much not present with kids of all ages: and that is peace.

Kids nowadays are surrounded with noise. They are just as distracted, if not more, than their parents and adults. It is a well-known fact that most elementary kids own a cell phone. I find this really hard to believe. But there is a cultural push towards being connected and being in touch at all times and texting at all times.

What is Peace? is a delightfully open-ended and thought-provoking invitation to consider how to make and sustain peace in our lives.

What does peace mean to you? through a series of linked questions paired with art that’s at once whimsical and sophisticated, the idea of peace is picked up and examined from every angle in the pages of this amazing book.

Wallace Edwards’ expressive paintings give the experience of an art gallery in book form, and his sense of play and boundless imagination are guaranteed to ignite creativity and expression.

I loved this book from beginning to end. The art work in this book is breathtaking.

I am SO glad that writers are concerned about peace and how kids can cultivate it.  I worry that kids are so overly connected and that they lack face to face communication and connection with another person. I think they will definitely struggle later in life because of that.

Also, there is the lack of peace in the world. If only kids can learn how to cultivate pace in their corner and show others the value of peace, we will definitely have a much better life moving forward.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Ontario, Culture in Canada, Educational book, Empowerment, Excellence, Peace, Picture Book | Leave a comment

What Makes us Unique? (79)

This is a wonderful book by Dr. Jillian Roberts and it is illustrated by Cindy Revell.

This is an important picture book about cultural diversity. This is a topic that is quite important given all the refugees that are coming to Canada. Kids have no idea how to deal with different people. And this book will definitely help kids to make this important adjustment.

When it comes to explaining physical, cultural and religious differences to children, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Child psychologist Dr. Jillian Roberts designed the Just Enough series to empower parents and caregivers to start these difficult conversations with their young ones.

What makes us Unique provides an accessible introduction to the concept of diversity, teaching children how to respect and celebrate people’s differences. Other topics in the series deal with birth, death, and separation and divorce.

One of the themes of the book is that diversity makes the world a much richer place. If we were all the same, the world would be a very dull place. But what is more, diversity shows us that everyone is a human being and that we are all to be respected equally.

This is an important message for kids of all ages. And the younger a child is, the more important it is for him/her to learn about cultural diversity.

Dr. Jillian Roberts has been working with children for more than twenty years, first as a primary schoolteacher, then as a child psychologist and an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria British Columbia with her husband and three children.

Posted in Author from Vancouver, Cultural Diversity, Culture in Canada, Empowerment, Nonfiction, Picture Book | Leave a comment

They Left us Everything by Plum Johnson (79)

This is a wonderful book!  It is a memoir that is as honest as it is riveting. And given that she will be at our Writer’s Festival here in Stratford this weekend, it was definitely an author I wanted to read.

After almost twenty years of helping to care for her elderly parents, author P)Plum Johnson finally falls to her knees with feelings of grief and relief when they die.

Now she and her three brother must empty and sell the beloved family home. It hasn’t been de-cluttered in more than half a century. Twenty-three rooms bulge with kitsch, antiques, and oxygen tanks. The task consumer her, becoming more rewarding than she could have imagined.

As Johnson sorts through the household, items from childhood trigger memories of her eccentric family growing up in a small town on the shares of Lake Ontario in the 1950s and 60s.

Her difficult parents could not have been more different. Her father was a disciplined, reserved British patriarch and her mother an extroverted, opinionated Southern belle.

The surprising discoveries she makes gradually instill a more accepting perspective about who her mother and father were and what she inherited. Johnson realizes that much of the emotional baggage was hers, and what her parents left behind was love.

By turns humorous and touching, this book is an unforgettable memoir about family, love, loss and legacies.

I loved this book because I can so relate to it because both my husband and I just recently had to clear out my mother-in-law’s home. She also lived in her home for over 60 years and it was not de-cluttered in many decades, if at all. It was a time of many conflicting emotions and especially extreme fatigue and grief.

I look forward to seeing Plum Johnson at our Writer’s Conference.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

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The Couple Next Door (78)

This is a wonderful novel by Shari Lapena. This is a story that will keep you glued to the pages.  It is like no story that I ever read in that it is at once haunting and yet very honest and penetrating.

This story also makes me want to step back and really wonder how well I know the couple next door or even my spouse. In the same vein, do we really know ourselves so well that we can predict all our behaviours at all times? Or are we just as capable of evil and mischief as our neighbour, spouse, and everyone else for that matter?

These are very thought-provoking questions that I find very fascinating as a philosopher. I love novels that make me think and that take me to the edges of what people are capable both good and bad.

This story is about Anne and Marco Conti. They seem to have it all — a loving relationship, a wonderful home and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one hot summer night they are invited to a dinner party next door and a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the Contis’ curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets too, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family — a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

This is a book that I will read and reread often.

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Ontario, Fiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment