Cover image for The heaviness of things that float / Jennifer Manuel.
Title:
The heaviness of things that float / Jennifer Manuel.
ISBN:
9781771620871
Publication Information:
Madeira Park, British Columbia : Douglas & McIntyre, [2016]

©2016
Physical Description:
292 pages ; 23 cm.
Abstract:
Depicts the lonely world of Bernadette, a woman who has spent the last forty years living alone on the periphery of a remote West Coast First Nations reserve, serving as a nurse for the community. Only weeks from retirement, Bernadette finds herself unsettled, with no immediate family of her own. And then a shocking announcement crackles over the VHF radio of the remote medical outpost: Chase Charlie, the young man that Bernadette loves like a son, is missing.
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Summary

Summary

Jennifer Manuel skilfully depicts the lonely world of Bernadette, a woman who has spent the last forty years living alone on the periphery of a remote West Coast First Nations reserve, serving as a nurse for the community. This is a place where truth and myth are deeply intertwined and stories are "like organisms all their own, life upon life, the way moss grows around poplar trunks and barnacles atop crab shells, the way golden chanterelles spring from hemlock needles. They spread in the cove with the kelp and the eelgrass, and in the rainforest with the lichen, the cedars, the swordferns. They pelt down inside raindrops, erode thick slabs of driftwood, puddle the old logging road that these days led to nowhere."

Only weeks from retirement, Bernadette finds herself unsettled, with no immediate family of her own--how does she fit into the world? Her fears are complicated by the role she has played within their community: a keeper of secrets in a place "too small for secrets." And then a shocking announcement crackles over the VHF radio of the remote medical outpost: Chase Charlie, the young man that Bernadette loves like a son, is missing. The community is thrown into upheaval, and with the surface broken, raw dysfunction, pain and truths float to the light.


Author Notes

Jennifer Manuel has achieved acclaim for her short fiction, including the Storyteller's Award at the Surrey International Writers' Conference in 2013. She has also published short fiction in PRISM International, The Fiddlehead, Room Magazine and Little Fiction. Author Diana Gabaldon describes Manuel's writing as "astonishing in its intimacy, delicate complexity and sense of compassion." A long-time activist in Aboriginal issues, Manuel taught elementary and high school in the lands of the Tahltan and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. She lives near Vancouver, BC.