The Break

The Break

eBook - 2016
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2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize finalist

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break -- a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house -- she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim -- police, family, and friends -- tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette's abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

Publisher: Toronto :, House of Anansi Press Inc,, 2016
ISBN: 9781487001124
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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From Library Staff

One of the must-reads of 2017, this dark and truthful novel of Winnipeg's North End examines the lives of women and the violence they face, both as Indigenous people and women.

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Apr 11, 2018

I loved this book. I just finished reading it for a second time and found it just as compelling. It is the characters and their strength that stand out as very very realistic. It is a part of Canada that is hard to read about, I am so removed from their world it is hard to imagine, but the author brings them to life. She helps you understand their world and recognize how strong their bonds are. I read Danny Wolfe, a Canadian Outlaw, first, it is a non fiction book. It is the story of 2 brothers also raised in the North End who went on to be famous criminals. Both books show a world that we need to recognize, even if we could never understand. I highly recommend both books.

Sep 06, 2017

Katherena Vermette is a talented story -teller.
The Break is an original , subtle tale following the lives of women who struggle
On the outside of hope, and how their reaction to one event is shaped by
Past choices.
No surprise that some are uncomfortable with the realities imbedded in this 'fiction'.

Aug 24, 2017

I would give this book ALL the stars! It's an amazingly strong and wise tale of several Metis women living and working in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It's hard to know where to begin to describe the book without giving away too much information, but events take place and impact all these women in various ways. I could definitely see my sister's life mirrored in some respects, and hear her voice, too. This one is very highly recommended and I hope the author is working towards another one.

Aug 17, 2017

Working my way through this mess was almost a nightmare. While I wouldn't ordinarily write a review is such a manner, I see no way to respond to this book other than in the same language as the book itself. Simply put, this is about people who have dug themselves into a hole and are still busy digging. Vermette has chosen, presumably for the sake of realism, to present her characters as, in their own sad vernacular, totally fucked-up and busy becoming more fucked-up. There is some attempt at social commentary: an exploration of racial tensions; of jaded police who have long since given up on a populace that sees them as the enemy; of the injustice of women abandoned by men who cannot stomach family responsibility and a society and set of laws that fails to compel them to man up. But it's all just depressing.
In the end, I really didn't care what happened to any of these people.

Aug 09, 2017

I did not expect to love this book but after a choppy start, I could not put it down. A good book teaches and this book certainly qualifies. I was struck by many aspects but was most impressed with the role of Grandmother in the cultural upbringing of girls in the native community. It made me realize that by wrecking an entire generation of traditional grandmothers, the white settlers broke a chain that may never be repaired. It is a sad story from the many perspectives we encounter in this book, but also uplifting in the spirit and courage of strong women who are doing their best.
And the writing was wonderful. This author nailed the dialogue!

Jul 31, 2017

Set in Winnipeg’s North End, The Break begins with Stella, a young Métis mother, witnessing a violent attack outside her home and calling the police. What follows is a haunting story, from multiple perspectives, of the people connected to the victim, as we learn about the events leading up to the attack, and as friends and family grapple with the consequences and whys of the violence. Overall, this is a heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful story about strong women, whose relationship to each other helps them to cope and heal from the violent realities of their lives, and the healing power of family and tradition.

Jun 29, 2017

Read the whole review here

This book has been getting a lot of press and with good reason, but unfortunately, I’m the type of person who sees something draped with accolades and thinks it can’t be that good.

Katherena Vermette’s debut novel The Break is good; there’s no doubt about it. Vermette’s background is in poetry and it comes through in the beautiful ways she constructs her sentences. She’s been praised for her ability to pace plot and develop character. She’s being congratulated for speaking about racism in society.

May 16, 2017

The Break, did not hold my attention. I've read several books with the theme First Nations women. The stories are all similar with different women taking the lead into violence, running away, sex, bad language and abuse.

Seems to be to be a common theme, none end far as I know. I seldom make it to the end.

Apr 28, 2017

Poorly written, reminded me of a grade school reader. I would recommend this book to preteen girls, except the profanities, drugs, sex, violence and poor role models make it entirely inappropriate. PS: I grew up in Winnipeg and am familiar with the North End.

Mar 31, 2017

The Break by Katherena Vermette is a multithreaded novel about a crime that takes place in Winnipeg. A young Native woman is attacked in the February night. There’s a witness who calls the police. So it’s a story about a crime, but it’s definitely not a procedural.

We get to know the family around the incident through a number of different viewpoints, including a couple of outsiders (a girl who’s escaped detention and a police officer). The story mostly takes place over less than a week, but is filled with flashbacks that give it a lot more depth than that.

It was a great book. And it totally should have won Canada Reads 2017 because it is a book Canadians (as a colonialist racist political entity) need to read.

I often talk about how for me, the practical reason for reading fiction is to build empathy. If you get into the heads of people who are different from you, you help expand what your world can be, and it makes you better at understanding and helping people with different experiences from you. The Break is totally going to be my go-to example for that. Vermette gets us into heads really deftly and her descriptions were incisive and made me shudder. We feel for the weaknesses and we feel the strengths everyone shows.

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Dec 21, 2016

Somehow the act of making food always feels like doing something when we are helpless to do anything else.

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