A NovelBook - 2014
Bookish eight-year-old Imogene Murakami, nicknamed 'Egg,â- lives with her parents and her teenaged sister, Kathy, on an ostrich farm in Bittercreek, Alberta. Egg's older brother Albert has died in an accident, her father has moved to the barn, and her mother drinks to submerge her overwhelming grief. Egg has only Kathy to look after and out for her — and Kathy takes the responsibility seriously, going after bullies who torment Egg at school, telling her stories whose endings she changes (she has Anne Frank escaping to America and working as an actress on Broadway). Kathy dreams of escape from the tiny town and the smothering pain of her parents' grief, and it seems as if she might make it, with the help of a basketball scholarship. Her best friend Stacey makes escape sound like a project they can undertake together. Kathy and Stacey become lovers, but when it becomes clear that Kathy feels she cannot leave Egg, Stacey makes a decision to switch her allegiance, to turn her back on her friend. She starts dating a boy, and he and his friends torment Kathy, sensing that she is not something they can categorize. The sisters' relationship is threatened when Egg's teacher reads aloud from Charlotte's Web and Egg herself reads the end — the actual end — of The Diary of Anne Frank. How can Egg trust someone who has lied to her about everything?
In the hands of Tamai Kobayashi, Prairie Ostrich is a warm and compelling drama of rare insight and virtuoso verve. Kobayashi introduces a fresh perspective to Canadian literature, blending physical, cultural, ancestral, and sexual isolation into an account of one girl's attempt to find her place against schoolyard battles and the mysteries of the adult world. As Kathy's last year in high school counts down to an unknown future, Egg sits a quiet witness against a vast prairie canvas. As she watches her family unravel, she slowly begins to realize that not every story can have a happy ending.
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Egg is an eight year old girl. Her brother has just died. Her mother is an alcoholic. Her father is obsessed with their ostrich farm. Her sister is a lesbian. She is ruthlessly bullied for being Japanese. Egg manages to deal with all of these things in her own way. She manages to discover why her brother really died, and what his connection is with her favourite librarian. She is having difficulty coping, and an impromptu arson brings the family back together.
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