Monday, January 24, 2005

6. Ces Enfants de ma Vie par Gabrielle Roy

Ces Enfants de ma Vie book pictureGabrielle Roy is one of Canada's better now authors. She was a Manitoba born french canadian who went to Quebec after teaching in Manitoba for 8 years. There she started her writing career. This book is one of her last, written in the '70s and describes her year as a teacher in small northern prairie town during the depression. The first half book is divided into small sections, each one telling the story of a single, remarkable student. I found the first half to be amazing, truly moving and rich. It made me think of how much we have materially and how the children of our society seem to have so much less spiritually. These kids are really poor, the children of immigrants who work non-stop just to survive on their farms. There is a really moving story about a little boy who can't afford to give her a xmas present. When she describes the little bags of nuts and fruit that the kids get from the teachers and how excited and grateful the children are, it's really moving. She wwas definitely a teacher and other teachers would recognize the struggles she has and her relationship with the kids.

The second part is almost a novella and more complex. Here she goes into her relationship with the oldest boy in the class, Mérédic, a wild rebel who rides a horse to school when he does come and causes nothing but trouble. As she learns about the source of his problems, she begins to sympathize with him and they end up getting very close. He's 14 and she's only 18 and there is a lot of erotic and romantic tension. He is half-native and shows her the natural world while she tries to get him connected to studying. There are some incredibly beautiful descriptions of the prairie landscape.

Ces Enfantt de ma Vie has been translated into english as The Children of my Heart and I'd recommend it to anyone, but especially teachers.

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