Family is an interesting concept. It’s the people who surround you. It’s the people who share your genes and DNA. But what about the people you choose to become part of your family? Is that just descendants from a common ancestor, or does that include friends?
Baygirl by Heather Smith is a fantastic example that family is the people around you who love and support you and in return you chose to love, forgive, challenge, and encourage. The novel is told from the point of view of Kitty, a baygirl in Eastern Newfoundland, who moves to St. John’s with her parents when her father loses his job as a fisherman.
This novel was another one from the CBC’s Must Read list of young adult fiction. And it pulls a punch, literally (well, at least for some of the characters). We see how Kit deals with and increases the number of people in her family. Her Dad is an unemployed and depressed drunk. Her Uncle is a recovering alcoholic widower. Her Mom is a hardworker who tries her best to hold the family together. Her Nan is a saint who loves all of her family. Then Kit adds in members to her own family: the bizarre elderly man, Mr. Adams, from the Yorkshire Dales who lives next door and constantly drinks tea, and Elliot, the French-speaking, poetry writing geeky boyfriend. Throughout the novel, Kit learns to let people into her life, she learns to accept help, and most importantly she learns how to forgive.
I loved this novel because it was set in Newfoundland, where I’m heading for vacation in a few weeks. I also loved this novel because the characters were not perfect. I liked that despite all of the anger, fear, hate, and sadness, there were beautiful moments that show life is good. Although some people do not have the best family (who are related), it doesn’t mean you can’t create your own family.
If you are looking for a great young adult fiction summer read that is Canadian, Baygirl is the book for you! This novel is heartwarming, aggravating, and delightful all in one. If you don’t believe me, click here for what the CBC list has to say.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“I always wondered – how does one forgive the person who has caused them to live their life walking on eggshells? This is the question I wanted to explore when writing Baygirl. This is why forgiveness is Kit’s biggest dilemma.” (Interview with Heather Smith)