“It was the first time that we had sort of articulated our major problem. She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other. We held each other tenderly, awkwardly, because she was in a bed attached to things.” (p. 37-38)
Long ago CBC had a radio show called “Between the Covers”, which was basically readings from audio books. I would stay up “late” (after all it was late for me back then) just to listen to people read from books, which were almost always Canadian. I remember one night I found myself listening to a reading from a book regarding the coming of age story of a teenager living in a Mennonite community and her struggles to discover who she was. I was instantly hooked, for the reason that the protagonist was just so complex and compelling that I ended up listening to almost all the chapters (I missed a few since I often fell asleep before it was over). Anyways that was how I was introduced to the writing of Miriam Toews and how I became a fan of her storytelling.
In her latest book which is also her seventh book, All My Puny Sorrows, which can be shortened to AMPS Toews tells a story about two sisters, one who wishes to die and the other who wishes her to live. It is also a story that accurately depicts what it means and what it takes to care for a loved one, and the toil that it can take on the caregiver. Akin to the majority of her books, AMPS is inspired by actual events from Toews’ life and in this case the relationship between Elf and Yoli is based on the real life relationship between her and her sister.
Once again Toews showcases her affinity for telling heartbreaking stories on the subject of families that ultimately ends up being both relatable and uplifting. I believe that AMPS is a vital book concerning both mental illness in addition to suicide, and I believe Toews does an excellent job of also capturing the confusion and anger people feel when a person close to them tells them they no longer has the desire to live. Finally I believe the book itself has an excellent message and I hope that it leads to the discussion of topics in the vein of mental illness and suicide, especially for people and families who often attempt to brush those issues under the rug.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.