Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach

Book - 2000
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From the winner of the Winifred Holtby Prize: a rich and haunting story of a family on the edge of heartbreak. Monkey Beach is a breathtaking novel - and the first ever published by a Haisla writer.

Jimmy Hill is a 17-year-old swimmer and Olympic hopeful with everything going for him: talent, charm, and devastating good looks. Much sought out by local boy-chasers, Jimmy dates a different girl virtually each week until he falls in love with Karaoke, the tough-as-nails village beauty. And then comes the horrifying phone call: Jimmy has vanished at sea.

Left behind is Lisamarie, Jimmy's wayward older sister who has carved out a delicate peace with her family at last, including the brother she too often casually wished would disappear. Through her we meet the unforgettable Hills: her loving parents, struggling to marry their Haisla heritage with Western ways; her uncle Mick, Native-rights activist and Elvis fan; her self-reliant grandmother Ma-ma-oo, guardian of tradition. But Lisamarie has other advisors less tangible or trustworthy: ghosts, Sasquatches, and animal spirits that weave their lessons through the book.

Monkey Beach is a spellbinding voyage - one that gives full scope to Robinson's renowned ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush, living wilderness as by its colourful characters, Monkey Beach is a startling coming-of-age story, and a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, c2000
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780676970753
0676970753
Branch Call Number: FIC Robin 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 377 p

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claralex800
Sep 16, 2017

When I finished reading this book my only reaction was "Are you kidding me?!", or maybe "You can't be serious?!". I liked the book well enough while I was reading it (it's divided into four parts, and Part One was so long that I gave up for two months before I started reading again), but the ending just ruined it for me. No spoilers, but there's no conclusion. None. The book just ends without wrapping up the most important parts. I feel like if I read any more of her books I'll skip to the end to check that there is an end before I start reading. I like her writing style, and the characters were awesome (especially Cookie, who gets the best line in the book, in my opinion) but the ending...

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susan_findlay
Aug 15, 2017

This book is fine, but it didn't captivate me. I didn't get attached to the main character (the narrator). I'm not sure whether it's because it was presented almost as a memoir so that you're not living through the events with her - or if it's because, while lots of things happen, nothing is dwelt upon. What I'd have thought were major events in a person's life get a page or two and then she just moves on. Maybe that's the point but, if so, I guess I'm just the wrong audience for this book.

m
ms_mustard
Aug 06, 2016

there is enough description elsewhere in this comment section - I was completely absorbed, charmed, saddened and impressed with this first novel.

g
gingerbeer
Nov 04, 2015

Heart-breaking and bittersweet, haunting and intriguing, Monkey Beach is a unique coming-of-age story set in the First Nations village of Kitamaat, on BC's north coast. This story provides insight into the culture and traditions of the Haisla people and the contemporary struggles of First Nations young people.

brianreynolds Jul 26, 2015

Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach uses the meander and musings of a Haisla teenager to illustrate the frustration of First Nations youth and the difficulty in reconciling Native culture with a colonial infrastructure that seems to be morally bankrupt. The book is—appropriate to many teens at one time or another—disjointed, confused, simply misinformed in places, poignant in others, grasping at magical solutions to everyday problems, depressingly simplistic at times and morbidly amusing at others. It was a struggle in places. In others, it was absorbing. The magical realism was extreme and at times seemed more gothic than aboriginal. Still, I think this is an important book. It's important that Ms Robinson's voice be heard

AmberKlassen May 07, 2015

Shifts a lot in writing style, but overall is a good read. Lots of interesting cultural aspects which is nice. Would definitely recommend this and am glad I read it :)

The star rating is for me personally.

e
Eosos
Apr 01, 2015

My feelings about this book are mixed. I thought it was interesting and informative. I liked the characters and most especially the setting. But I did find it quite choppy and a little depressing.
The story is told by Lisamarie, she tells us of her uncle the activist who can’t seem to make a life her parents find acceptable, of her brother and his obsession with swimming, of her grandmother who teaches her about tradition. We learn of the tragedies of her life (of which there are many) and are left with a little bit of hope, but not much.
The story was good but difficult to get engaged in.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

Once again, Eden Robinson has portrayed her native community with honesty, humour and intelligence. (Traplines, her first collection of stories, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.) This novel focuses on the northern coast of B.C., in the Haisla territory near Kitamaat, where Lisamarie and her family are coming to terms with the news that Jimmy, her younger brother, is missing at sea. Through flashbacks and spirit insights, Lisamarie looks at her life and begins to understand past events; to understand that meeting and leaving, living and dying come at their own time and in their own way.

k
kelsijatk
Nov 16, 2014

This book features a gutsy heroine who is torn between the spirit world and her physical reality as she desperately tries to save her brother. It has a spooky, dream-like quality to it that is eerie as well as beautiful.

starman77 Dec 26, 2011

Brilliant. Thought it started out slow, but really glad I kept reading because it gets more and more interesting as the book goes on. I was getting serious shivers down my spine toward the end. Writing style was creative and engaging- I especially liked how memories and events unfolded.

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Lisa comes of age in Kitamaat, B.C., where her Haida community includes uncles involved in First Nations warrior movements, industrious grandmothers with one foot in the grave and the other in various spirit worlds, and the long-armed specter of residential schools.

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