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The word that kept coming to mind as I read this book is "elegiac", although the main character, Helen, is not dead. The story picks apart the life of Helen, whose husband died aboard the oil platform the Ocean Ranger in 1982, leaving her to raise four children -- one still in the womb. Although it is fiction, it feels so true. The life is like a broken mirror, each shard reflecting the light sometime bright, some dark and tinged with blood. The prose is beautiful, her descriptions of the everyday and the ordinary bring those things into such sparkling focus that at moments it can hurt the eyes.
There is a section in the middle, where the heart of the story seems to drown in her own clever writing, but she pulls back from that toward the end and brings the story into focus. On the whole, a beautiful book. It reminds me somewhat of Colm Toibin's Brooklyn in the sense of tracing a little life, but I think this is better. A worthy winner of Canada Reads 2013.