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Publisher's Summary

2017 Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Literature Finalist
Winner, Amazon.ca First Novel Award
Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
Winner, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award
Winner, McNally Robinson Book of the Year
A Canada Reads 2017 finalist
National Bestseller
2016 Governor General's Literary Award Finalist
2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Finalist
National Post 99 Best Books of the Year
CBC Best Canadian Debut Novels 2016
Globe and Mail Best 100 Books of 2016
Quill & Quire Book of the Year
Kobo Best Books of the Year
Walrus Magazine The Best Books of 2016
49th Shelf Books of the Year

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.

©2016 Katherena Vermette (P)2017 Anansi Audio

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What listeners say about The Break

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Every Canadian must read

This is a book that will break your heart and mend it over and over again. It shouldn't be avoided for fear of the tragedy in it, but embraced and experienced for the necessity of the perspective and truth in it. It is as devastating and difficult as it is and compassionate, gentle and soothing. Every Canadian should read this authentically and lovingly told story.

9 people found this helpful

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Tears to my eyes and joy to heart

I loved this story, it showed how interconnected communities can be and how close families can be. I loved Kookom, she made everyone feel loved, safe, and warm. Kookom has a huge family much like myself. Our families bring us strength when we are one and apart we are lonely and incomplete. We are sad when we drift away from our family and can only find happiness where family is. We are all sad and hurt together and happiest when together. Grandma's house is where it is safe and warm, not cold and lonely. I recently lost my Nan, my heart hurts and annoying tears run down my face and it is hard to breathe properly. She was my teacher, my mentor, my great-great grandmother. My traditional ways that I follow means I have to put pictures away for a year and I can't cry after sunset or before sunrise. It is incredibly difficult to not look at pictures of my Nan but I respect our traditional ways so I will suffer and cry out my grief for my loved one. I will be forever grateful for all her teachings and I will continue the traditional ways of passing knowledge down generation to generation. The world that surrounds us on a daily basis consists of the good, the bad, and the ugly; but we must remember that all that matters is what is right here. Don't let your mind overthink but act on instinct, call your grandma or that special person, don't let that moment go because you can't get it back. Act on instinct rather than overthinking. I am one to overthink and now I live with regret and I miss my Nan so much it hurts. Tears run down my face a lot lately, happy memories flood my mind, but what saddens me the most right now is that I can't look at pictures or draw my happy moments with my Nan because of my traditions. This place hurts so much but I hope to find another way to show how much love and miss my Nan through art. My tears run down my face as I write this review but I can feel myself catching my breath and breathing properly. I am a further Indigenous educator and I am grateful to read novel's with Indigenous perspectives. I have a strong desire to make teaching materials with Indigenous perspectives to share our stories and knowledge. We, Indigenous peoples lives are resilient, family oriented, traditional, cultural, spiritual, and important. We are relevant and people should hear our stories. It is not easy being us but we are still strong and have a positive attitude and "everything will be okay."

2 people found this helpful

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one of the best books I have heard or read

all I can say is listen to it . Really listen. it moves your and soul. the nsrrator brings each character to life embracing each one's hope pain and love. I usually prefer to read but I believe the authors narration makes it even more poignanr.

1 person found this helpful

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Dark, confusing and slow

I have read books about aboriginal people, books like "red prophet 1988". In this book, I could not understand why everyone was so secretive, dark and hopeless. There were so many people in the story, with close enough names, that most of the time I tried to figure out who was who. I am sorry, but I don't recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful story of sisterhood

Sad but beautiful story of several generations of women who hold one another up through some terrible experiences. The narration is amazing and really brought the characters to life. Only con is that story is perhaps a little bit slow-moving.

1 person found this helpful

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I didn't want it to end

I loved this book. It was so sad yet such a lovely illustration of a beautiful family dynamic full of love and sorrow. I absolutely loved the narrator's voice.

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compelling

the story is like an onion with each layer revealing more and more , pulling you in as a witness to the happening at the break, before the break and after the break. everyone needs to read or listen to this story.

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Everything you didn't know you needed to hear

If you don't end up absolutely loving this book and author, I don't trust you

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Strong and Sad

I so admire Michaela Washburn's exquisite performance of an incredibly difficult story. Many tales weaved together so well, this novel gives us a glimpse into one part of a very big story. maarsii

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A intensely beautiful book about pain, adversity, resilience and hope.

This is a beautiful and complex story about the incredible resilience of an Indigenous family and their community, impacted by the multitudinous effects of racism and settler colonialism in contemporary Manitoba.

Vermette paints a rich picture of very complex community dynamics that are at times violent and severe, but also beautiful, supportive and life affirming.

The book is “about” many things, but the poignant heartbeat throughout, is about the strength of Indigenous women and their sisterhood.

As a non-Indigenous person I felt that Vermette has given me a gift by letting me glimpse into this world.

*trigger warning - this book does contain a serious incident of sexual assault

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  • Katherine
  • 2018-01-25

beautiful, loving, spiritual, storytelling

I loved this book! The narrator was amazing in capturing so many different characters. Beautiful story that I will not forget

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karen
  • 2019-11-25

a wonderful novel!

This is a brilliant story, artfully told, about a community of Indigenous women. Listen to it. Then read it. You won't be sorry.

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  • Kristie
  • 2019-01-05

Required reading

This is a book that should be read by all Canadians. Beautifully written, this book provided a life altering perspective to a middle class white girl, who grew up on the other side of the tracks, somehow oblivious to the challenges facing so many people.