Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood
By Pauline Dakin, Viking, 336 pages, $24.95
Pauline Dakin lived an inexplicable childhood. Twice her mother moved their family across provinces without telling anyone where they were going. Pauline's mom said she'd explain when Pauline was older. That day came in 1988 when a family friend disclosed that Pauline's family had been on the run from the Mafia; he said he'd been their liaison in the "Weird World" of witness protection. The truth, later revealed, was much weirder. Dakin describes the isolating effects of a childhood on the run and a young adulthood spent constantly looking over her shoulder: family ties and friendships severed, restlessness from being constantly uprooted, stress on adult relationships and difficulties with trust. While this is Dakin's story, there is a second hero here: the author's mother, Ruth, an adventurous and engaged woman who summoned all her resources to protect her children from what must have seemed an indefatigable enemy. This is a well-paced and engrossing memoir where Dakin's skills as long-time CBC health reporter uncover one final, startling revelation.
All Is Beauty Now
By Sarah Faber, McClelland & Stewart, 342 pages, $29.95
In 1962 a young woman, Luiza Maurer, goes missing while swimming at a busy beach outside Rio. Her body never discovered, she is presumed drowned. Unlike the rest of this novel, narrated from the perspective of members of the Maurer family, the prologue that relates Luiza's drowning is narrated in chorus by the community. "We" are the privileged descendants of the Confederados, migrants from the defeated Confederacy who chose Brazil (where slavery was still legal) over Reconstruction following the American Civil War. Pity for the Maurers, long considered the golden family of Villa Confederacao, is tinged with spite. Hugo Maurer, the once-charming Canadian expat, now has a reputation for increasingly erratic behaviour. Luiza's mother, the beautiful Dora, is one of the Confederados, even if she is embarrassed by this heritage, "so much longing for a place that never was." Luiza, until her death, denounced her family's wealth. This is just the set-up to Sarah Faber's powerful family novel exploring the twin dangers of romanticism and nostalgia.
By Igiaba Scego, translated by Jamie Richards, New Vessel Press, 185 pages, $24.50
Often lost in discussions of the "migrant crisis" in Europe: This is the Scramble for Africa come home to roost. Igiaba Scego's novel Adua, the first of her books translated from Italian, gives the lie to the "postcolonial," charting over a century's history in the legacy of Italian colonialism: Italy's defeat at Adwa in the First Italo-Ethiopian War (1895-96); Italy's use of poison gas in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-36); Somali independence, the 1969 coup, two decades of civil strife. … It is near the end of this civil war that Adua, passing through the Piazza dei Cinquecento in Rome – dedicated to Italy's fallen soldiers in East Africa – comes across Ahmed, a recently arrived migrant who she takes as her husband. It is with the fragile peace in Somalia that Adua can consider returning there to claim her father Zoppe's home. Zoppe, Adua, Ahmed: Three arrivals, three experiences of blackness in Rome, three generations searching for a way out. Scego, who is Somali-Italian, is an incisive writer on migration, skilled in making the historical personal.