Monday, April 17, 2017

Crow Lake Book Review

Crow Lake is Mary Lawson's debut novel. It immediately went to the top of Canada's best sellers lists just days after it's release. Crow Lake is described as a "deceptively simple masterpiece" and I agree with that description. The survival story of the Morrison children, Luke, Matt, Kate, and little baby Bo, is a story that will stick with me for awhile.


Crow Lake by Mary Lawson


In a remote farming community, in Ontario, families remain for generations making a living on the land. The farms pass down from generation to generation. The dating pool is slim, and the future dreams typically consist of marrying someone within the community and raising their own children.  

However, the Morrison family is celebrating - in their subdued Presbyterian farmer way - their eldest son's acceptance into teacher's college. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison drive into town in order to buy a suitcase for their eldest son's pending trip to university. Except, Luke never goes to university.

Mr. and Mrs. Morrison are killed in a tragic traffic accident, leaving distant relatives and local community members to care for Luke, Matt, Kate, and baby Bo. This story brings new meaning to the familiar phrase, "it takes a village".  Just how exactly will these four children either remain together to fend for themselves or be separated and raised by family members who have plenty of their own struggles? There are hard decisions to be made.

This is not a fast-paced dramatic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Instead, it is a deep, and rich tapestry of sibling rivalry, family dynamics, the working out of how things should be. Survival is not always easy, but it is easier when surrounded by people who love you. From little Bo banging on the pots and pans, to the violent and volatile Pye family nearby, to Kate's summertime weeding of the neighbor's garden, we watch and wonder how things are going to turn out.


Kate Morrison


The story is told through Kate's perception - as reported in her childhood letters and her memories. As well as played out in her adult relationship with her boyfriend, Daniel. Kate idolizes her brother Matt. During the portions that Kate, the child, is relaying the story of the children's survival, it is clear how much she idolizes him and yet there are things she does not understand. Adult things. Adult things that make our idols do things we don't understand. 

As an adult, there are still things that she doesn't yet fully understand. Kate does not understand the decisions that were made and why. Kate has gone to college and has become a zoologist. She lives far from that remote farm home. She is sure about the things she examines under the microscope but she is not fully sure why she does not easily invite her boyfriend home. But Daniel has made her aware that she is a barrier to their full relationship. Kate is also not sure why it is so hard to go home. 

This story of siblings, tragedy, family, community, and redemption is a slow-building tale that comes to a satisfactory and meaningful end. Or perhaps, it is just the beginning.

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

5 comments:

  1. Dawn Rae, this sounds like a charming story. I can't wait to read it. Your review is excellent!

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  2. Life does have an interesting way of changing plans. It sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Having grown up in a large family, I can understand why Kate would questions decisions. For one thing, hindsight is better than what you can see "in the moment". In addition to that, my siblings and I often see things differently. We place value on different things. I would imagine as the middle child that I would question decisions made my my older siblings that drastically effected my life too.

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  3. Wow, great review as it left me wanting to know more. On my list now. Thank you!

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  4. I'll have to find time for this one Dawn. What an excellent review. Thanks!

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  5. This sounds like a book that's right up my alley. It reminds me a bit of the Sager children who were orphaned on the Oregon trail. It was true, but there are also fictional accounts of it my children loved reading. Sounds like this one is for adults. I know I'd enjoy it.

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