The grain was woven with riddles. Canola, wheat, maize, barley, linseed, rye.
My 13th read for Bookstravaganza was much like my 1st – a novel with many ties to Calgary, my home. Belinda’s Rings, written by Corinna Chong, is set in Calgary, following the perspective of Gray, a fourteen year old girl, who is dealing with taking care of her older sister, much younger half-brother and step father after her mother, Belinda, disappears to study crop circles in England. As her “short” trip becomes longer and longer, we get deeper and deeper into the family problems and personal complexities of both Belinda and Gray.
Belinda’s Rings was a great read with a lot of heart. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end, particularly Gray’s voice – honest and gregarious and earnest. I loved the wordy chaos of it. As Gray delves further and further into the problems of her family, and of her mother’s own selfishness (although simultaneous selflessness for committing herself to house-wife drudgery), we discover the fragility of family. And the wonders that any of it can work out.
What do I take away from Belinda’s Rings? I am someone who likes to believe I am completely independent, but novels like this one remind me that our lives are always linked with the actions of others. Gray’s obsession with marine life, in particular the squid (also the nickname of her younger brother), isn’t so different from Belinda’s obsession with crop circles. The connections of these independent women in this family and their desire to be free to pursue their interests ultimately complicate the lives of their family members. The culture that I see myself surrounded by does so much to elevate independence as a characteristic of women – the independent woman, not the “clingy girlfriend’ is the woman most 21st century men want to be with, but yet she is still a woman that society craves to tie down. What happens when that woman is tied down? What happens when she believes she can be the wife or sister everyone wants her to be? And what happens when she realizes she isn’t? Where or with whom then does the failure lie?
Books Read: 13