By Brenda R.
Just finished WinterFree. This was my favourite book. And since meeting you, it makes for a different read because I can hear you talk; you write just like you speak. I think many people my age would thoroughly enjoy all the books because “they lived it.” I was wondering what the reaction from a kid today would be after reading the part about getting the strap. They probably would find it hard to believe with all the rules they now have for teachers. I got the strap in Grade 8 along with about 6 others. It was similar to Buddy, where we all had to line up. Our principal was a different sort of guy, a little insecure perhaps, and when he started down the row he rose up on his toes. That made me laugh. Then I was in trouble. I don’t recall it hurting but I am sure it did. Of course if your parents found out, you would get another licking at home. Definitely not like today’s parents: I doubt you can even verbally reprimand a kid nowadays. Parents seem to be too involved in their kids’ lives, instead of letting them figure things out for themselves.
The church chapter. A friend of mine went to a very weird church; her parents wouldn’t allow her to do anything. Well, she was the one who ended up pregnant in high school, and another friend took her to Saskatoon for a back alley abortion. She has survived and is a pretty nice girl now, living back in Battleford, but she had many rocky years figuring out her place in this world.
The other chapter I enjoyed was when the church people went to the Indian cabin in Cochin. You wrote it so well; you could just see the looks on everyone’s face, the smells in the cabin: so good. In high school, the kids from Red Pheasant were bussed into our school. I remember at first they didn’t feel welcome and would eat their lunch in the washrooms, but things settled down and there were some very smart kids.
Anyway the whole book was such a fun read. You seem to remember EVERYTHING that ever happened. I do, too, once someone mentions it, like you have. So, thank you for taking me back. We had a wonderful upbringing before people developed the fear of being stolen. We didn’t even have to be concerned about all the mental patients wandering around where we grew up. We just enjoyed all the different characters. And they always fed our dogs and it was hard to keep their weight down. We played ball with them in the summer; they helped care for our huge garden.
Today when I was at the hairdressers, I started the last book. I love the quote about brothers and sisters. Even though I only have Al, it rings so true. The same goes for the friends I still have from elementary school. Some I have gotten together with after many, many years, and it is just like you never separated. So easy to pick up the conversation and comfortably settle back where you were years ago.