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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Summer of My Amazing Luck - Miriam Toews There's nothing amazing or lucky in this book. Perhaps a better title would have been, "My Down-And-Out Tale." Perhaps the title is trying to be ironic. It's a story about a single mother who's on welfare. Her situation is miserable. But her story is told with an air of humor and indifference to her environment.

There aren't very many novels written about the welfare class. And there are even fewer novels written about women on welfare free of moralizing. This book simply tells the story, and it is what it is. In this way Miriam Toews demonstrates her ability to make her writing interesting while writing about common uneventful sorts of things.

In some ways this book could be described as a first person narrative focusing of trivial everyday sorts of thoughts and feelings. There are some symbols and motifs for people who look for them: rain, washing off graffiti, diverting storm water from one place to another, flooded basements, a journey to nowhere. Then near the end there is some excitement and new hope. It ends with mild optimism, but certainly no "happily ever after."

The following quotation caught my eye for some reason. It's two poor people talking about being poor:

"Yeah, but we're poor because we're stupid. And being poor makes us more stupid."
"No, it doesn't. It makes other people think we're stupid. You know there are so many pissed-off people who are considered much more successful than me, but I think I'm happy, I feel happy. I don't know why. I have Dill. I'm young. We're on the road. Stuff's happening. I wish it was enough to be happy. It should be, you know. That should be the mark of success, you know, just a general feeling of happiness...."