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Review: Promises to Keep

One of my favourite books growing up was a historical novel set around the start of the War of 1812. It told the story of two siblings and their friend, growing up on opposite sides of the river, who suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict as well.

The details from that book stayed with me far longer than anything I learned in history class (sorry, Mr. Klassen!), and the characters were so real to me I can still remember how I felt reading that book.

I’m not sure why it didn’t click for me sooner, but recently I realized that there’s no reason why I can’t continue reading historical fiction. I can definitely stand to learn some more about what’s gone on in the world. But it’s hard for me to just remember facts and dates, so this is a perfect solution.

So I took my first foray back into the world of historical fiction with a piece set in good old Canada.

Promises to Keep is set in 1755, just as the Acadians’ peaceful life in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, comes to an abrupt end. It follows a young woman named Amélie who, along with her family, is forced from the only land she’s ever known. However, one of the British soldiers is a Scotsman who is sympathetic to the plight of the Acadians, but helpless to help them. The two form a connection which deepens into something more – but the two of them are on opposite sides of the conflict. Plus, Amélie and her family are about to be sent south by ship – permanently.

Part tragic family story, part engaging romance, Genevieve Graham pulls her readers in and shows both Nova Scotia’s beauty and the contrasting horror experienced by the inhabitants. She also weaves in the Acadians’ connection with the original inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq.

Although I enjoyed it, Promises to Keep didn’t quite draw me all the way in. I liked the characters, felt for their plight, but I believe its best audience would be late teen/young adults. Or maybe it’s just me! 🙂 That being said, I learned a lot about this portion of Canadian history; I didn’t know about anything about the Acadians or the conflict in Nova Scotia.

Graham has written several other historical fiction works, which I believe are all set in Canada. I will definitely keep her work in mind as I look to explore more in the genre.


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Review: Imposters, season 1

I discovered Imposters almost by mistake. I stumbled down a social media rabbit hole, and emerged with a Netflix search. Sure enough, it was available.

Two episodes in, I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to try watching it, because I could tell I would be through it within about a week if left to my own devices. So then I rewatched the first two episodes and we still finished the series within a week or two.

Imposters tells the story of Ezra Bloom (Rob Heaps), a newly-married young man who wakes up one morning to find that his beautiful young wife (played by Inbar Lavi) has not only up and disappeared, but she has taken all of the money in their shared accounts, maxed out their credit cards, and left him with a blackmail note to ensure he doesn’t get the police after her.

In the midst of dealing with all this news, there’s a pounding at the door: the FBI is at the door, looking for his wife. But it turns out to be not the FBI at all – no, it’s another of his “wife’s” con victims (Parker Young). Together the two of them team up to find her, but as it happens she has started a new con, which might just be more than what it seems.

It’s a fun, sassy show, with a lot of “how are they going to get out of this one” moments and close calls. I really, really enjoyed it, and am pumped for season 2!

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend watching it – although probably not with your parents or children.

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Review: 50/50

Watching 50/50 reminded me of Silver Linings Playbook in a lot of ways. Set in a nonspecific present, it follows the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a young man dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. After a doctor with terrible bedside manner gives him the bad news, he goes home and learns online that his rare type of cancer has a 50% chance of survival.

Like SLP, 50/50 isn’t really a story about a quest that forces a character to chase after something. Instead, it’s more of a snapshot of a particular time in the character’s life. Adam must undergo chemotherapy treatment; he shaves his head; he attends therapy with a new resident therapist (Anna Kendrick); he hangs out with his best friend (Seth Rogan). The people in his life matter, and he learns about them through being sick himself: his girlfriend, his best friend, his mother. He meets some new people along the way. And it seems like none of them are particularly remarkable, but together they form Adam’s support system and help him as he makes his way through each day.

I must make specific note of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance in this film: as a viewer I felt so strongly for Adam. Of course I wanted him to get better, but I also wanted him to get his ‘smaller’ wins: connect with his mother. Break up with his girlfriend. Even having a breakdown felt like a win after his character went for weeks feeling numb. He left room for the viewer to feel.

Actually, the whole film was crafted in a way that leaves room for the viewer to think and feel and empathize and sympathize and wonder. And at the end, Adam was different than when it started. Strangely, he was also the same. The change happened so quietly you hardly notice, but it’s definitely there.

Subtle, yet powerful. Good movie.