Monkey BeachBook - 2000
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.
From Library Staff
Robinson's first book is a classic tale of loss and family ties, set on the West Coast.
From the critics
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Lisa is living in a coastal community in BC called Kitamaat, which has a high native population. It is a coming of age story and starts with the reader learning of the disappearance and suspected death of the main character's brother Jimmy. The main character Lisa then begins going through a series of flashbacks detailing her teen years and life with her family up until this point. Strewn throughout the novel are more 'present' settings where Lisa moves the story forward by finding out more information about her brother. Eventually the flash backs and the present merge to come to the ending, which is terrible. We don't really find out if Jimmy lives or dies, although we do find out that he kills a family friend for raping his niece, who is Jimmy's girlfriend. Lisa is looking for Jimmy on Monkey Beach, the novels name sake and maybe gets eaten by a Sasquatch? Once again the ending of this novel is terrible.
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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