okay, so a thing about me is that i don't like the term "book review" because art is subjective. response feels more appropriate, because i can write about how a piece of work impacts me... it allows room to be critical without coming from that place of perceived superiority that makes reviews feel pretty icky to me sometimes.
to put it bluntly, this book fucked me up. it was many things but, most of all, it was effective in stretching my emotions to lengths that made me uncomfortable. i had high hopes from Tanya Tagaq because she's the coolest and she undoubtedly met them in both the content and delivery.
i hate structure. my heart is anti-system. for me, Split Tooth blurred lines in all the right ways. it follows an adolescent girl growing up in 1970's Nunavut. prose, poetry and illustration meld together into snapshots of the protagonist's life, guided by youthful wonder, traditional wisdom, vivid spirituality and ongoing trauma. stories dance through darkness and light, examining things like adventure, attraction, abuse and addiction through the eyes of youth. diction is precise, but scenes are searingly clear. in this novel, the children are often wiser than the adults and nearly everyone is flawed and beautiful... people are not static.
parts of Split Tooth were hard to read and i have no doubt they were supposed to be. although it's fiction, i know many parts ring all too true for many, especially canada's indigenous population. as a new mother and a victim of abuse, i definitely struggled to get through portions of the story... but i felt compelled to see it through and i'm glad that i did.
read this book. i don't want to tell you too much about it, because i want you to discover it for yourself. i want you to live in the imagination of its protagonist and feel her pain which, although existing here within a fictional character, is too real a force in many's lives. i want you to experience tenderness for people in hard situations. i want you to see the earth and its sacred processes from an Inuit perspective. i want you to appreciate other experiences and outlooks, or perhaps to see glimpses of your own on paper, both of which are incredibly valuable experiences.
i will likely remember Split Tooth forever. Tagaq is an incredibly storyteller and i have nothing but appreciation for this book and for her.