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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Secret Path (Historial Fiction) (Graphic Novel)

by Gord Downie (writer) & Jeff Lemire (Illustrator) 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (October 18, 2018)

Softcover, 96 pages

Probably one of the most depressing graphic novels I have ever read, and also one of the most unique. It is an oversized edition - 12 X 12, while most graphic novels are 6.5 X 10.5, and it is supposed to be read accompanied by music. Tucked away in the back of the graphic novel is a download code for the album by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip. The lyrics to the album are written on pages in the novel, so you will know which one to play during the various section. Of course it might run short or fast depending on your reading time, but the lack of words in the novel generally means the average reader can get through it at a decent clip.
Each code has a onetime only use apparently so if you're buying a used copy make sure the slip of paper bound at the end hasn't been torn open. Also, apparently the Kindle version of the book doesn't have include a download code at all.
The whole of this books is a mass of bleak emotions. Almost wordless, except for music lyrics and the line “Goodbye” it is showered in a blue daze of depression, with a few bright spots to make you really feel the depression afterwards.
Thing is, to truly grasp what is transpiring in this story you do have to read the notes on the back cover. Otherwise, it just seems like the story of a boy who ran away from an orphanage and was trying to find his way home.

I am including the back cover notes verbatim, “Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.
Chanie’s story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history—the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system—with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.”
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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