Title: Open Arms
Author: Marina Endicott
Publication Year: 2009
Source: CBC Podcast Between the Covers
This was another book that I “read” via podcast. I’m starting to be very happy that I got into this habit!
Endicott’s Open Arms is about a very unconventional family that spans across Canada. The narrator, Bessie, starts out the story as she is returning to her mother Isabel’s home in Saskatoon, where her father Patrick’s other ex-wife Katherine, as well as her daughter Irene, also live. Bessie has been living with her grandparents in Nova Scotia, but now that her grandfather has died, and she has had an upset of some kind with the boy she was seeing, she is returning to live with her mother again.
From there, the story starts and stops, jumping through time, revealing episodes of Bessie’s life as she grows up. In one section, she and Irene meet Patrick’s newest wife, Doreen, over one Christmas, when she is about to give birth to twins. In another, Bessie and her grandmother go on a cross-country search for Isabel. Endicott tells the story in a flowing, lucid way that begs the reader to follow along – made even easier by the wry narration of Bessie.
There’s something very “Canadian” about this novel, aside from the geography. The story drew me in and made me hope for good things for Bessie and her strange family, connecting us in a way very like the strained connections between the characters in the novel.
I definitely think that people should read this book. There are stops and starts, and the writing can sometimes seem a bit stilted, but overall, it was a very enjoyable read.