This is Sheena Kamal’s debut novel and it was a tough, gritty and violent read. I loved it! It is set in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where Nora Watts, an Indigenous woman, works for a small private investigative company. She is a product of BC’s foster care system and a survivor of a horrible, violent rape that leaves her almost dead as well as pregnant. She is in a coma for months and when she awakes discovers she is pregnant and it is too late to terminate the pregnancy. She is forced to carry the child to term and after delivering a healthy baby girl, gives her up for adoption. Nora is not motherhood material.
Some fifteen years later she is contacted by the adoptive family because the girl, Bronwyn (Bonnie for short) has gone missing thus setting in motion a string of events that test Nora’s beliefs about herself, force her to relive some of her past and make the reader either love her to bits or at least have a great deal of sympathy for her. I loved her.
Through this gritty, violent story, Kamal brings to focus the plight of Indigenous women and girls, foreign investment, drug/alcohol addiction and ecological issues such as mining which have all been news-worthy topics and social issues in British Columbia. She also managed to contrast the natural beauty of B.C. with the dark, seedy side of the Downtown Eastside. It had a shocking ending to the part of Bonnie’s disappearance and a touching ending to the story. I wanted a sequel…How is Nora?…How is Bonnie and…??
It is truly wonderful to have found such a potentially great newbie Canadian author to add to my growing list of “OMG another book by….”!