Title: The Way It Is
Author: Donalda Reid
I enjoy reading Canadian literature because I find that Canadian authors often provide a glimpse into the social culture of Canada that I don’t see in other novels. While I generally don’t gravitate to historical fiction, I was interested in reading The Way It Is by Donalda Reid because I enjoy young adult fiction and wanted to see if this novel would be appealing to me.
Set in British Columbia in the 1960s, the novel focuses on Ellen Manery, a bright (though socially awkward) teen girl who lives in the shadows of a large school. While she doesn’t have a large social circle, she has some distinct goals and is working her way through an accelerated high school program that will allow her work experience in a university lab and early acceptance into a pre-med program. She has her “eyes on the prize” as she works to her goal. Her accomplishments are amazing in light of the time period and the fact that all of her peers in her program are male.
Her life changes suddenly when her parents announce their plans to move to the northern town of Salmon Arms to run a campground. Ellen sees her dreams slipping away as she is forced to move with her family and finds herself on the outside even more in a small school with no accelerated programs. She is incredibly lonely and has trouble understanding all of the social issues that surround the Native population in the area and the racism that she witnesses.
This novel provides an interesting backdrop of the social issues (sexism, racism and the Vietnam war all appear in the context of the storyline). I found myself engaged in the novel as I could relate to Ellen’s awkward nature and her desire to reach her goals. I really enjoyed The Way It Is by Donalda Reid as it surpassed my expectations and has made me interested in reading more historical fiction because I think it adds another layer to the novel.
*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of this book for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*