Joy Kogawa’s masterful third novel, a middle-aged woman discovers painful truths about her father

kogawa_rainIn Joy Kogawa’s masterful third novel, a middle-aged woman discovers that her father, a respected Anglican priest, has long been a sexual abuser of boys. Originally published to critical acclaim in 1995, The Rain Ascends has been revisited by the author, with substantive additions to the end of the narrative that bring to fruition the heroine’s struggle for forgiveness and redemption.

As a middle-aged mother, Millicent is confronted with the secrets of her father’s past as she recalls certain events in her childhood-a childhood that, on the surface, was a blissful one. Disbelief turns to confusion as she faces up to the sins of her father and wrestles with a legacy of lies, silence and her own embattled conscience.

In The Rain Ascends, Joy Kogawa beautifully sifts the truth from the past and the sinner from the perceived saint. The result is a sensitive, poetic, yet searing depiction of the wounds left by abuse and the redemption brought by truth.( Penguin)

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Date Published: January 14, 2003
Subjects: Fiction
EAN: 9780143013xxx
Physical Dimensions: 5.50″ x 8.55″
Sales Rank: #

JOY KOGAWA was born in Vancouver in 1935 to Japanese- Canadian parents. During WWII,  Joy and her family were forced to move to Slocan, British Columbia, as part of the Canadian government’s policy to relocate and intern Japanese-Canadians. Kogawa is the author of several award-winning novels and volumes of poetry. In 1986, Kogawa was made a Member of the Order of Canada; in 2006, she was made a Member of the Order of British Columbia. She lives in Toronto.


“Rain Ascends by Joy Kogawa.” Penguin Random House Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2015. <

Canada- be proud such a poignant book can be celebrated


Thursday saw the final day of debates for this year’s Canada Reads, and it certainly did not disappoint. With Kristin Kreuk, Craig Kielburger, and Martha Wainwright entering the final show as free-agents, Lainey Lui and Cameron Bailey made their final pitches to sway their fellow panellists in the deciding vote.
When it came time to cast the ballots, however, the decision was almost unanimous. Despite a fierce performance by Lainey, Raziel Reid’s YA novel When Everything Feels like the Movies was voted off. This meas that, Ru, Kim Thúy’s poetic novel about immigrating to Canada as a child has won Canada Reads 2015.(CBC)


“Canada Reads: Watch The Finale! | CBC Books | CBC Radio.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 21 Mar. 2015. <;.

Thy, Kim. Ru. Thorndike, 2013. Print.

“My Favourite day”, said Pooh…


The Tao of Pooh

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favourite day,” said Pooh.”

– (A.A.Milne )


Hoff, Benjamin. The Tao of Pooh. New York, NY: Penguin, 1983. Print.

Liddell, S. “MorgueFile Free Photo.” Lone_tree_on_heath.jpg. Web. 14 Jan. 2015. .

‘Winnie the Pooh, frieze’. C 1927. Reproduction. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, Web. Jan 13. 2015. .

Review – Cockroach by Hage

Cockroach by Rawi Hage.
A Geography 12 reading choice.

“Unique story and style but a dark challenge for me. Although clearly a heavyweight book, one has to invest in its’ layers and manic depression to see the literary virtue.

The choppy run-on style of narrative matches the unstable mental health of the poor immigrant. The protagonist’s bold honesty of dialogue and reflections is poignant. I found myself turning away with some imagery yet the cockroach metaphor does make one wonder what blunt loneliness will hit next. A serious book of the Cdn urban experience. Certainly not beach reading but an exploration of people and place.- A Smith


Our PBL Book 2: Camilla Gibb

Book 2:
Camilla Gibb- Sweetness in the Belly
IMG_7792.JPGDescription:  Orphaned at the age of eight, British-born Lilly devotes her life to the teachings of the Qur’an from within a Sufi shrine, but is persecuted for her foreign heritage, forcing her to flee to London, where she is equally disconnected.
Genre:Canadian fiction; Political fiction; Psychological fiction
Sweetness in the Belly was longlisted for the 2007 Impac Dublin Literary Award, was the winner of Ontario’s 2006 Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award.
Sweetness in the belly (Mar 2006)


“…as a valued teacher of the Qur’an to Harari children, and as friend and nurse to Ethiopian exiles in London. “You put roots and they’ll start growing,” her bohemian parents told her to justify their nomadic ways. But grown-up Lilly actively seeks roots and relationships, agonizing over the uprootings that famine, corruption, and political instability made inevitable for Ethiopians in the 1970s and ’80s. Her narrative shuttles between two cosmopolitan cities, two tumultuous decades, and two significant others….”( Amazon)

Author interview:

Trillium Awards:

Our Geography PBL: Book 1- Elizabeth Hay

ELIZABETH HAY- Late Nights on Air.
Late nights on air (Sep 2007)

Author:Hay, Elizabeth, 1951-
Adults-Fiction Award-Winner
Description:Accepting a position at a northern Canadian radio station in 1975, Dido Paris disarms a hard-bitten broadcaster with her beauty and vocal talents before controversy surrounding a proposed gas pipeline triggers call-in-listener debates on the air.

Genre:Canadian fiction
Writing Style:Lyrical
Persistent link :

Award Winners
CBA Libris Awards (): Fiction Book of the Year
Ottawa Book Awards: English Fiction
Scotiabank Giller Prize
Canada Reads Across the Country


Ottawa writer and former CBC Radio journalist Elizabeth Hay was part of a particularly formidable shortlist in 2007 that included former winners M.G. Vassanji (a two-time Giller winner at that) and Michael Ondaatje.

Yet it was Hay’s sometimes comic, sometimes tragic tale about a zany cast of characters at a small radio station in the Canadian North that won the jury over that year.

The jury (David Bergen, Camilla Gibb and Lorna Goodison) described Hay’s Late Nights on Air as a “splendid achievement” and considered it “in some ways a dazzling virtuoso praise song to Canada and things Canadian.”(CBC)


By Ian Gordon Malcomson
This is a finely crafted portrayal of life in Canada’s Far North! In her story, Hay effectively brings together a motley group of southerners in Yellowknife to work the northern airwaves for the CBC. This novel covers a time in the middle 70s when the North was opening up to development of its great deposits of oil and natural gas, and people were coming from points south to start a new life for themselves. What many were not prepared for was the incredible struggle they would have to go through to assert their identity. The land that they are about to enter is described in the novel in all its unexpected ferocity, unimaginable vastness, haunting beauty, forsaken loneliness and unyielding naturalness. Intimidating enough to send any newcomer packing after their first winter! The barren world that confronts these outsiders – Harry, Gwen, Eddie, Dido, Ralph and Eleanor – is one that can only be temporarily subdued by the power and lure of transmitted voices breaking into other’s confined living spaces dotted over the hundreds of miles of open wasteland. All the above physical dimensions have the power to keep northerners eking out a living in tiny communities hugging the banks of the many rivers like the mighty Mackenzie. For the whiteman there is no substitute for the human voice, even though people like Gwen attempt to go out and capture the numerous sounds of wildlife on tape to compensate for the real thing. It is the magnetic qualities of the Dido’s voice on a late night program that initially draws Harry to her in what turns out to be an unhappy affair. The trouble with a voice pattern is that while it becomes the initial badge of identity in the far reaches of nowhere, it only serves to lead people to each other in the hope of forming more lasting contacts.


Videos talk :


Itani new novel Tell, is perfect historical novel- people not just places

Terrific book. Itani completes another well crafted novel. The humanity and atmosphere of the time are restrained yet riveting. It’s so good that I’m collaborating with our History teachers immediately. Like The Wars by Timothy Findley, both the vivid settings and character insight is perfect for such a sobering topic.

Mara Dyer Series: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer [Michelle Hodkin]


Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: There have not been many books that have been capable of sending shivers down my back. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was a very rare read for me.

When I first started reading it, it seemed as if it were a normal book. There was no evidence of any dark incidences. However, there was quite a bit of foreshadowing regarding Mara and her future power. Hodkin’s has an intriguing way with her words that makes you want to find out what will happen while hesitating to read any further  There is a certain quality to her words that creates a macabre mood for the reader.

When Mara’s family moves to the new town, Mara begins to experience very realistic and intense hallucinations. The images that Mara sees are very dark and are very disturbing. When reading them, it seems as if her hallucinations are so intense, that I felt them to be real.

When Mara finally realizes her ability, Hodkin made sure that Mara’s reaction was realistic. Mara was intensely skeptical towards what she could do, believing herself insane. Mara’s internal struggle is agonizing for her, as she does not understand who she really is or why she is still alive. her only tether to reality is her new boyfriend, Noah. He is the only one who doesn’t care that Mara believes she is crazy. He treats her as a normal person. He is not only Mara’s tether but he is also the reader’s tether. He is the only normal thing for miles.

But after a certain point in the book, I just stopped being interested in the plot. The momentum of the story just stopped and anything that happened after that seemed as if Hodkin used it as a last resort. When Noah announced his ability to Mara, it seemed as if Hodkin was pulling at straws. I was a little skeptic towards the aspect of Noah having an ability. His confession came out of nowhere, it seems, and it completely caught me off guard. It was not a pleasant feeling. It was an entirely random incident.

After that, it felt as if all the good things in this book weren’t relevant anymore. Nothing in the book made sense and I felt very confused as to what was happening.

The only other thing that made sense was the last event of the book. Mara’s internal struggle lead her to want to confess of her crimes. When Mara arrived at the police station, an extremely important event occurs. Hodkin left a steep cliff at the end of her book, leaving the readers wanting to know more, wanting to resolve this event.

I feel as if this concluding event is the only reason I want to read the next book. I can say that this was not my favorite book, but it was a good one. I suggest this to anyone who loves dark and mysterious plots.

The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone [Leigh Bardugo]


Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

-Google Books

Front Cover

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review: I was sitting in the library and this book caught my eye. I recognized the cover, because I had seen it before, and I decided to read the first page. The words were so well placed and well written that I felt I had no choice but to take it out. I knew just from reading the first page that this book would be one of the best I have ever read.

When I read a book, it is not the mental images, or the plot line that compels me to read more. It is the quality of words. I do not appreciate poorly written novels, even if the story line is captivating or interesting. Leigh Bardugo, however, used her words in such a beautiful way, that it was impossible to resist.

There were so many surprises that I was incapable of keeping a steady reading pace. As soon as I settled into reading comfortably, something big would happen and it was difficult not to skip forward to see the result. I was constantly on the edge of my seat. This is another attribute that attracts me.

Bardugo has a wonderful way of opening up her characters for us to read (no pun intended) while keeping a certain mystery about them. The main character, Alina, is very amiable and understandable, but also has many secrets that she doesn’t reveal until near the end of the book. For example, Alina has a scar on her hand that she always touches out of habit. The readers never find out how it was procured until the very end. I find this a fascinating technique to get the readers to connect with the character more. To make us feel as if we all have small things that comfort us but we dont want to share.

In Alina’s struggle to control her ability, Bardugo does an amazing job at showing her inner struggle and frustration. Alina experiences a lot of self-doubt at the beginning because she never knew she had a power. She believes that it will disappear inside her again and she will be viewed as a fraud. This is another way I felt connected to the character.

Another thing I loved about this book was the surplus in obstacles. There wasn’t just one goal that had to be fulfilled, there several, one after the other. Of course Alina wanted to control and develop her ability throughout the entire book, but this was contradicted with many problems and blockades.

I did not give this book a five out of five for one reason. There were tiny moments where I was slightly confused as to what to believe. This is a personal preference because I prefer to know everything that is happening and to not contradict myself. I realize that Bardugo was confusing the reader intentionally as to include the reader to the storyand link them to Alina, but that tactic is not to my liking.

Besides this, Shadow and Bone is by far, one of the best books I have read. I’m 100% glad I took the risk to read the first page. 🙂


review by: dharmaayla


The Mortal Instruments Series: City of Bones [Cassandra Clare]


When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first encounter with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons – and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? and how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Rating: 5 out 0f 5

Review: As soon as I read the first sentence, I was hooked. Most authors begin their book with a small introduction on the setting and the characters’ lives and a little foreshadowing here and there but Clare just jumped right into the action. Right from the literal beginning of the novel, there was no stopping.


“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest.
He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his shaverd head.
“You can’t bring that thing in here.”

The development of Clare’s characters was very well presented. Right away, I knew Clary’s personality and habits. It was as if I had been friends with the characters my whole life. That is a very rare feeling. Also, I loved the way she presented new characters. For the Shadowhunters, Clary met them in a moment where they looked feral and savage. She caught them in the act of killing a demon. It was very realistic. Clare was very clear that the Shadowhunters did not want to trifle with the ‘mundane’ world. She was also very good at portraying that there was a whole other world in Clary’s city that she was literally blinded from. 

Another quality that I thoroughly enjoyed about Clare’s writing was her intricacy. The whole plot line was a big spiderweb, woven together by small details and finally all joined together at the center. There were so many little details in the book that I never found relevant. But as soon as I hit the climax, everything slowly came together. It was genius. When I thought I realized what was coming up, instead of being predictable, Clare created something entirely different and I was totally caught off guard. This was a brilliant way to keep people hooked.

Clary and Jace’s relationship was another brilliant feature of this book. It is not something you can simply explain but she created something so realistic between the two of them. You could tell at first that they both didn’t know what to think of each other. Jace was an arrogant teenage boy, and even though he was gorgeous, Clary did not like him at first. But she would glimpse moments of softness and vulnerability which made Clary curious. They drove each other crazy. Clare had a good way of making you feel the frustration between them. But she also had a good way of making you fall for their love story. Which makes it such a big surprise when Clare whips out the final twist of the book. This part of the book was the hardest to read because it was so terrible. It was one of those twists where you are horrified but you had to read more because you believed it impossible. Clare made it seem as if the universe was for and against Clary and Jace’s relationship at the same time.

Another thing I quite enjoyed about the Shadowhunter world was The way Clare treated the Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks). She never made it stereotypical and it was a ll very realistic. They were just as much a part of the Shadowhunters as the demons. They played a big role with Clary’s adjusting and her friend circle in this new world. I liked the way Clare used them in her book.

There is not much I can comment about on the plot without giving to much away but there was so much going on that it was literally impossible to put this book down. There were always unanswered questions that made you itch to know more, the characters were always going on dangerous quests that caught you off guard, the enemy was always tormenting the readers with snippets of their intentions. It was a roller coaster ride.

A beautiful job. Well done, Cassandra Clare!

review by: dharmaayla

  • Next week, read the review of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Gone with the Respiration: Dearly, Departed [Lia Habel]


Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.
In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: The thing that was so amazing about this book was that the plot and the detail was so different and interesting than any other book I had ever read, that I had no choice but to get right into it. Who else would have come up with a way to interpret the future, the past and an apocalypse all in one era. Nora’s world is so diverse. Habel interprets the technology of 2195, the society of the 1800’s and the imagination of 2012. Simply amazing. I love this world.

I was really swept along with the turn of events. There were no breaks in this book, just event after event. In the beginning, Nora is finishing school for the holidays and in a matter of days she has been kidnapped by zombies and falls in love with one.

I really like how Habel changes perspectives every few chapters. She alternates between Nora, Bram, Pamela (Nora’s bestfriend), Victor (Nora’s father), and Wolfe (the general in charge of the zombies). This way you always know what is happening in every aspect of Nora’s kidnapping. The victim, the kidnapper, the family, the villain. you know everybody’s thoughts and everybody’s motive. Which is great, but sometimes slightly frustrating because the other characters don’t know what is going on.

Habel had a way of piecing all the untied ends together at the end. Picture it like a water slide.  You get faster and faster down the slide and then when you least expect it, you reach the end and a big, drenching splash is created. That is how I would describe this book in a nutshell.

Habel was good at playing with Nora’s skepticism on the “good zombie” subject. When Nora was kidnapped, Bram was ordered to lock her in a dorm and keep her there until further notice without any sort of contact to the outside world. Bram had thoroughly opposed to that request so he, instead, put her in his own room. Nora stayed there for days on end, terrified of what stood on the other side of the door. Bram, knowing that she must be confused and scared, began playing a game with her, a little like twenty questions. Nora asked questions about her situation and about Bram’s former life, and slowly but surely, the connection between the two grew very deep. At one point in the book, Nora begins having a panic attack because she wants to talk to Bram and he isn’t outside her door. She starts screaming and shouting at all the doctors who are trying to calm her down (the only alive people for miles) and didn’t stop until she heard Bram’s voice. It is oddly ironic yet quite cute.

In most books, the end of the bookholds a big battle and the death of the enemy. In Dearly, Departed, Habel has made the fighting quite limited, which is nice. Sometimes too much fighting is annoying. The climax is mostly Pamela’s rescue from the “bad zombies” and a very intense phone call with the enemy (Wolfe). It is more intense and suspenseful than death-filled and tragic.

I am so very excited to read the second book of the series: Dearly, Beloved. I have a hunch that it is going to be more action filled and more passionate than the first one.

review by: dharmaayla

  • Next week, read the review of City of Bones