Some of my favourite books have been recommended to me by friends. “Word of mouth” is a powerful selling tool and leads you to discover some literary gems before they make the bestseller list. I remember arriving at Chapters in 2009 to purchase a copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockett for a friend, and there was not a copy to be found and sales staff had not even heard of the title! To this day, I feel that I was the driving sales force behind many future bestsellers including The Help, Water For Elephants, The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, and The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around The World.
A colleague overheard my request for a good vacation read, and handed me the book The Town That Drowned by Riel Nason. She had just finished it and was singing its praises. She had me hooked when she mentioned that this fiction book was loosely based on an actual event that took place in New Brunswick in the late 1960s, when the Mactaquac Dam was constructed and a town was flooded in the process. The history buff in me was immediately intrigued.
I loved this book. It is a great bookclub title because there are so many discussion points from bullying, the nature of progress, and the meaning of community and home, to the pangs of first love. What makes this book truly memorable is the central coming-of-age story featuring Ruby, who narrates the story and has a front row seat viewing a community in crisis. Ruby has a gentle sense of humour, as she relates her life as an outcast after she nearly drowns and has a vision of the future.
The characters are vibrant and richly painted. The relationship between Ruby and her brother Percy (who suffers from Asperger syndrome) is fascinating and leads the reader to moments of levity, compassion, and terror. Eccentric characters make the book really compelling, including Miss Stairs who has her own particular phobia.
Ruby is made fun of at school because of an incident where she falls through the ice and has what appears to be a prophetic vision of her town underwater. This mysterious vision intrigues the reader, as the people in Ruby’s dream systematically pass away. Since her brother Percy is also part of her hallucination, the tension builds throughout the book.
Do you have a “word of mouth” favourite book to share?