Book Review: A Place Called Sorry

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Before I get into how this book left me with a serious book hangover, let’s talk about the physical book itself. Caitlin Press sent this beautiful paperback to us and it was one I could not stop touching, pawing at it, marvelling over. Yes, highly book nerdy behaviour, but I offer no apologies. :-)

I absolutely love it when a publisher takes such pride and care in their published works. A Place Called Sorry has a compelling and moody cover, but it also has French flaps and finely cut pages. The pages are lovely to touch, and the chapter numbers are done in an eye-catching font. It also distinguishes the text of the journal pages within differently than the rest of the text, so all in all, I just loved handling this book almost as much as I loved reading the contents inside!

And….holy smokes!!! The Literary Hoarders are featured on the inside flap for Milner’s Somewhere In-Between! How amazing is that to see, sandwiched between the Hamilton Spectator and the Winnipeg Free Press! (shout out to our former Hoarder Jackie for this:)

“The heartbreaking tale of Darla’s death, Virgil’s unreal story, and Julie’s difficult healing process blend together just wonderfully – you will have a hard time putting it down once you have picked it up…I still find myself thinking about the characters in Somewhere In-Between. Great read!”

Just as Jackie said about Somewhere In-Between, I too had a very difficult time pulling myself away from A Place Called Sorry, once I started reading it. I was completely transfixed with the story and it was one of those books where I would have rather been reading than being pulled away to do those mundane tasks like working. I read and savoured every single word, and was completely mesmerized by the story.

I hung on every single word of Addie’s story, and the story she shared from her grandfather’s journals. There were times when I was leaning into the book trying so hard to put myself in there and be closer to them. So rich and vivid and real were these characters. I was sharing in their heartache, sorrow and pain. I was sharing in their triumph during the times of their happiness and redemption. I absolutely loved this book and I kept crowing that this is Canlit at its finest.

A Place Called Sorry is about Adeline (Addie) Beale. She is growing up in the 30s and after the unexpected death of her beloved younger brother, her mother leaves them, unable to overcome her sorrow and pain, leaving Addie to be raised by her father and grandfather on their cattle ranch in a little town called Sorry.

Her father works inside the town’s grocer as a notary public and also helps with the store’s accounts. The grocers is owned by a Mr. VanderMeer along with his Native wife, Rose and her son, Alan Baptiste (much to the town gossipers’ chagrin). Addie and Alan become close friends, sworn together as “blood brothers”. Since her grandfather’s eyes are slowly failing him, it falls to Addie to read from the town’s newspaper each night and help complete the bookkeeping for the ranch. When Addie discovers her grandfather’s journals amongst the ranch’s books, she begins to read them to her grandfather, but as he slips further into dementia, she reads them more and more on her own, immersing herself in her grandfather’s past that he has long kept secret. The journals contain the stories about his time as a young boy when he first came to British Columbia with his father. They camped with a group of road builders to roads through land already settled by the Native people of the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Here, Milner weaves facts of the “Chilcotin War” time period with the fiction of Addie’s grandfather’s story. His story will slowly unfold for Addie and she will piece together the people involved with the people she loves so dearly in the present.

And, as I mentioned above, the characters within A Place Called Sorry are so wonderfully vivid and real – every single one of them – but for sure, I would anticipate you despising this one character as much as I did – Sorry’s school teacher, Mrs. Parsons. This is another fantastic storyline within the book!

All of it is completely wonderful! It’s going to take some time to recover before I can reach for a new read.  5 stars for this finest work of Canlit!

Literary Hoarders Penny