Unless by Carol Shields

Unless

Carol Shields

A moving, sensitive and deceptively simple book book which explores the feelings and emotions of Reta, a writer, whose daughter Norah has 'dropped out' and is sitting on a street corner in Toronto with a placard round her neck. Although the game is no longer happy famiies, life must and will go on.

Extract

It happens that I am going through a period of great unhappiness and loss just now. All my life I've heard people speak of finding themselves in acute pain, bankrupt in spirit and body, but I've never understood what they meant. To lose. To have lost. I believed these visitations of darkness lasted only a few minutes or hours and that these saddened people, in between bouts, were occupied, as we all were, with the useful monotony of happiness ....
Looking back, I can scarcely believe in such innocence. I didn't think about our girls growing older and leaving home and falling away from us. Norah had been a good, docile baby and then she became a good, obedient little girl. Now at nineteen she's so brimming with goodness that she sits on a Toronto street corner, which has its own textual archaeology, though Norah probably doesn't know about that .... Norah sits cross-legged with a begging bowl in her lap and asks nothing of the world. Nine-tenths of what she gathers she distributes at the end of the day to other street people. She wears a cardboard sign on her chest: a single word printed in black marker - GOODNESS.

Parallels
  • The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  • See-saw by Deborah Moggach