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Five Little Indians

de Michelle Good

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4972450,259 (4.11)58
Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn't want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission. Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations. Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can't stop running and moves restlessly from job to job - through fishing grounds, orchards, and logging camps - trying to outrun his memories and his addiction. Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together. After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew. With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Based on the real stories of victims of Canada's Indian residential schools, this is heartbreaking historical fiction centered on five lives completely altered and permanently damaged by the physical and psychological abuses they suffered at the hands of the government and the church.

Far from feel-good, this is a feel-bad book. It is heavy. I was flooded with perpetual feelings of dread from start to finish, as it becomes apparent from the first pages that the characters are going to suffer misery and trauma they will never be able to escape. And, unsurprisingly, the perpetrators never saw justice. I would recommend this novel to anyone who can handle it, though, as it's important, and acknowledging atrocities of the past is one way to help ensure that such horrors would be prevented from happening again. ( )
  ryner | May 1, 2024 |
A fantastic book. A must-read for every Canadian.
Canada Reads Shortlist 2022 ( )
  Dorothy2012 | Apr 22, 2024 |
There are some books that really must be read, especially in the frame of the Pope’s visit and somewhat inadequate apology (what about the $$, sir, and that Doctrine of Discovery?).
It can be easy, as part of the settler culture, to let the stories of abuse wash over you, fill you with sadness, brief and ineffectual, and let them slip away.
This book makes you live the stories through the characters, feel their strength despite everything, their need to pull together, the horrible risks so many suffer(ed) under. It’s an uneasy experience, especially if you have your own stories of abuse, but the humanity never slips into gratuitous description, and as the reader you are left to your imagination about much of went on. This, in and of itself, makes the book a high-residue one- I’ll be thinking about it, and these characters, for a long long time.
It’s impossible not to grieve for the decades/centuries of inhumane treatment we have put each other under. I can only pray that we somehow learn our lesson and choose kindness at some point.
Have to admit I’m not overly optimistic about that, though.
Read this book. ( )
  Dabble58 | Nov 11, 2023 |
A sad story of Canadian indigenous children who were taken from their families to residential schools. Based on the horrible part of history that is only really just coming to light now. This fictional story follows the life of five children and how their early life experiences shaped their lives. They come into contact with each other over several years and each struggles with moving forward from devastating events that stole their childhoods. ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Aug 14, 2023 |
On parle beaucoup des pensionnats pour enfants autochtones, notamment au Canada, depuis quelques temps dans les média français. Ce livre, paru en 2020 au Canada et il y a quelques semaines en France, est donc d’actualité, d’une actualité difficile, parce qu’elle nécessite d’affronter un passé dont on a pendant longtemps préféré ce détourner. Chaque nation a des squelettes dans ses placards, le Canada est en train de se mettre à en affronter un.
Dans ce livre dont le titre fait penser à la comptine Ten Little Indians, une comptine cruelle qui voit les dix petits indiens mourir les uns après les autres et qui se finit par ce fameux vers « And Then There Were None » (fameux depuis la polémique sur le titre du livre d’Agatha Christie, mais c’est un autre sujet), Michelle Good imbrique le destin de cinq personnages principaux. Nous n’allons à aucun moment dans le pensionnat par lequel ils sont tous les cinq passés, quelque part en Colombie Brittanique, sauf lorsque les personnages se souviennent de ce qu’ils ont subi entre ces quatre murs, violences physiques et psychologiques, absence de soins et d’éducation, et j’en passe. Non, Michelle Good préfère cueillir ses personnages à la sortie de ce pensionnat et nous faire les témoins de leur lutte pour s’adapter au monde dans lequel ils débarquent (et pour lequel, malgré leur passage au pensionnat sensé les rendre compatibles – j’utilise à dessein ce mot dénudé d’empathie – avec la culture occidentale, ils ne sont absolument pas préparés), pour panser leurs plaies et vivre avec leurs souvenirs douloureux. Parmi ces cinq personnages, tous n’y arriveront pas, et ceux qui y arriveront ne trouveront pas tous l’apaisement qu’ils auraient espéré.

Si le sujet est intéressant, d’un point de vue littéraire, il me semble que le livre a quelques points faibles. Il s’agit du premier roman de Michelle Good, publié à l’âge de 64 ans par une autrice Cree qui avait déjà publié des poèmes et des essais. Elle a mis dans ce livre beaucoup d’elle-même car, si elle n’a pas été dans un de ces pensionnats (mais elle a été dans un foyer de l’institution, simplement à cause de ses origines), sa mère et sa grand-mère ont subi ce système, et en tant qu’avocate, elle a accompagné plusieurs survivants de ces pensionnats dans leurs démarches pour obtenir réparation (si tant est qu’une décision de justice soit suffisante pour réparer). J’écris tout cela parce qu’il me semble que l’on sent dans ce livre la proximité émotionnelle de l’autrice avec son sujet, ainsi que le fait qu’il s’agisse d’un premier roman.
J’ai en effet trouvé que les personnages n’avaient pas autant d’individualité que ce que le choix d’un roman à plusieurs voix (écrit, à l’exception de quelques chapitres par un narrateur indéterminé et omniscient). Le fait que tous les protagonistes soient issus du même pensionnat accentue d’ailleurs ce fait et empêche peut-être de voir une certaine diversité de situations. D’autre part, j’ai trouvé le propos peut-être parfois un peu trop didactique, notamment avec cette impression que la seule véritable rédemption possible est par le retour aux racines. C’est un chemin tout à fait respectable et intéressant, mais peut-être pas le seul. Mais le personnage de Clara est probablement par son cheminement très proche de l’autrice, et ceci explique peut-être cela.

Cependant, même si j’ai quelques réserves quant à la qualité purement littéraire de ce livre, je ne voudrais pas que ma note de lecture soit considérée comme une critique négative. Ce livre que l’on présente, et je veux bien le croire, comme le premier roman écrit sur le sujet, est un moment nécessaire de la littérature. Il introduit un sujet sombre et important dans la fiction, il participe à la prise de conscience par une société de ce qu’elle a produit de peu reluisant, et comme je l’ai dit, tous les pays ont ce genre de taches dans le fil de leur histoire et il faut pouvoir les regarder en face, et ce sans attendre que tous les protagonistes soient morts.
C’est donc un livre que j’imagine nécessaire pour la littérature canadienne, et qu’importe pour cela ses possibles maladresses qui ne sont que mineures. Et pour les littératures qui ne sont pas canadiennes, c’est aussi un livre nécessaire parce que savoir et peut-être commencer à comprendre est toujours important.

Merci aux éditions du Seuil de m’avoir permis de découvrir ce livre, via netgalley.
  raton-liseur | May 24, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Michelle Good never went to a residential school. But as the daughter and granddaughter of people who did, the long-time advocate for residential school survivors says a certain question often comes up..Why can’t they just get over it and move on?

With her economical prose, she draws her characters with enormous compassion and without judgment.

While Good makes it clear these five young people suffered horrors during their years at an “Indian school” on Vancouver Island, she doesn’t dwell on that. Instead, she follows their individual and interwoven lives after they were released — or escaped — from the school in the 1970s. ....The braided stories of the five, whose lives connect and disconnect over the decades, help us see why they, striving to survive in a world for which they are woefully unprepared, make the choices they do. .....In her author’s note, Good wrote that her hope was to offer a safe space for readers to step into the survivors’ world. She does just that. “Five Little Indians” opened my heart as well as my eyes.
 
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For the Boy, Jay Daniel Good.
My devoted son,
the reflection of the self I saw in your eyes was,
and is, my lifeline.

and

For every terrified child taken.
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Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn't want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission. Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations. Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can't stop running and moves restlessly from job to job - through fishing grounds, orchards, and logging camps - trying to outrun his memories and his addiction. Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together. After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew. With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.

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