The Break by Katherena VermetteThe Break by Katherena Vermettesticker-burst

The Break

byKatherena Vermette

Paperback | September 17, 2016

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Winner, Amazon.ca First Novel Award

Winner, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Winner, Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

Winner, McNally Robinson Book of the Year

A Canada Reads 2017 finalist

National Bestseller

2016 Governor General's Literary Award Finalist

2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Finalist

National Post 99 Best Books of the Year

CBC Best Canadian Debut Novels 2016

Globe and Mail Best 100 Books of 2016

Quill & Quire Book of the Year

Kobo Best Books of the Year

Walrus Magazine The Best Books of 2016

49th Shelf Books of the Year

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break - a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house - she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim - police, family, and friends - tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette's abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

Heather's Review

I just finished The Break, now a Canada Reads short list selection. The Break is a deeply moving intergenerational saga kicked off when a young Metis woman witnesses, through her night darkened window, what she believes is a rape. She calls 911 but by the time the police arrive both victim and perpetrator are gone, having left behi...

see all heather's picks
KATHERENA VERMETTE is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses Company) won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. Her National Film Board short documentary, this river, won the Coup de Coeur at the Montreal First Peop...
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Title:The BreakFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.68 inPublished:September 17, 2016Publisher:House Of Anansi Press IncLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1487001118

ISBN - 13:9781487001117

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Customer Reviews of The Break

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourite books Wow. I gobbled this book up in one weekend. It is wonderfully written, and has such an array of interesting, intriguing characters. I can't wait to read more of the author's work. Also, this should have won Canada Reads!
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the book I am recommending to everyone I know I loved The Break. Any review will tell you that the plot centres on a horrific incident of sexual violence, but what people should know is that this book is more than a recounting of the traumas suffered by indigenous Canadians. It is a book that respects its characters, loves them in their imperfection, and shows you what really being there for family means. I cannot recommend The Break highly enough.
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Not the easiest read certainly, in terms of the characters' trials, but well worth it.
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed The characters were a bit hard to follow, and I only remembered after that there was a family tree at the beginning to help. I enjoyed the story, but wanted more from the ending. I wanted to know what happened to some of the characters and links that were subtly mentioned, developed further. Definitely recommend this book!
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read! I had a hard time keeping all of the characters straight at first but the story comes together so well. I couldn't put this one down... read it in a few sittings! Loved the strong female characters. Speaks to the realities faced by so many aboriginal communities and the power that past has on future generations.
Date published: 2017-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Whoa, so good I enjoyed the whole of this story. So hard to read at parts, but the characters were rich and layered, and their lives are the real deal. This book sits with you for a while after you finish. I wanted to read it slowly to get the full impact, but I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful and Engaging Can Lit! I chose this book for my August book club pick and everyone, including myself, loved it. From the moment you are first introduced to the characters you fall seamlessly into their lives. With each chapter offering a different character's perspective you are always viewing the story from varied sides. This was an honest and troubling story about the issues many of our Indigenous communities face and in particular Indigenous women. Yet, what I loved most about these characters was the way in which Vermette depicts their strength and their closeness, a hearkening back to when matriarchal societies were the norm. The reader sees at once the ingrained stigma's, and challenges with respect to sexual violence, and comes to understand that fighting and overcoming these long standing issues is just the beginning for many of these women. Highly recommended read, especially as a Canadian.
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great canadian read! Great read! Attaching characters, a true page turner Can't wait to read more books by Katherena Vermette
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching Loved this book. It isn't an easy read, but it was the first that really touched and I am still always thinking back to this story. Absolutely worth the read!
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it I found this story was slow to start at first but once it picked up, it was hard to put down. A beautiful and brutal novel and definitely worth the read!
Date published: 2017-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Book Review: The Break by Katherena Vermette The Break is not an easy read. It's visceral, full of phsycial and lateral violence, heartbreaking, and numbing. If not the best, it is with certainty, the most timely and thought-provoking book I have read since North End Love Songs and April Raintree. Vermette's narrative, description of the bleak winter, coupled with the psychological deadening of the characters who are raped and tortured is a story all Canadians (and anyone really) should experience.  In a journey to remind myself that while I can identify with, and have experienced the fringes of the world of many missing and murdered Inidgenous and Métis women; I will never be one of them. While I am thankful, and lucky to have been born into the family I have, the sorrow I feel for women who expereince domestic, emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological trauma has only deepened as a result of reading Vermette's novel. 
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Weird Took way too long to get into the story and failed to pull me in
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing. Beautiful story, beautiful writing, beautiful depiction of families and love and strength.
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad I enjoyed the sense of community and family between the women in The Break. Through heartache and tragedy, they came together and seemed to find hope in the darkest of places. The flashbacks within paragraphs were a little hard to handle and some spelling errors irked me here and there
Date published: 2017-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good compelling story and characters. very identifiable with First Nations struggles.
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT READ I ALWAYS ENJOY HEATHER'S PICKS.
Date published: 2017-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heather's Pick I just finished The Break, now a Canada Reads short list selection. The Break is a deeply moving intergenerational saga kicked off when a young Metis woman witnesses, through her night darkened window, what she believes is a rape. She calls 911 but by the time the police arrive both victim and perpetrator are gone, having left behind only some blood stained snow. Through interweaving stories of several people connected to the victim we discover “the truth” about what happened as well as deeper truths of life in the part of Winnipeg known as The North End. The writing is fresh, forceful, and powerful. I was drawn in from the first paragraph.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A must-read, though a hard read Extremely well written, this story is one that needs to be heard and repeated and felt. It is hard to take because the content is difficult, but even in dealing with aggressive sexual content, Vermette has managed not to offend, not to delve into gritty explanations nor extend the narrative unnecessarily. She speaks for each victim and abuser in a way that helps us to sense the depth of the problem--no band-aid is going to heal this issue, and in the midst of a nation applying a band-aid, we hear the voice of the victims who lift their chins, wrap arms around one another and press boldly into another dawn... thank you, Vermette. We needed this story, even if we wish we didn't.
Date published: 2017-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I found this book a little confusing at first because you are introduced to numerous characters, however, it all starts tying together. This is a book that will stay with you long after you finish reading it. Great read! I am in agreement with some of the other reviewers who think that this book should have won Canada Reads.
Date published: 2017-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 Stars simply aren't enough “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” - Unknown Oh what an unforgettable story about family, hardship and resilience. It is told in alternating viewpoints from a variety of characters in the book; mother, grandmother, daughter, policeman, friend etc. Together, their recollections and experiences shape an entire story. It starts with an assault, but it is so much more than that. For me, this story made me feel compassion for each and every character, regardless of their actions. From someone who was born in Manitoba, I thank the author for this eye opening, ultimately uplifting story; I enjoyed each and every page. 5 Stars.
Date published: 2017-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Overall good book Had a few parts that were very slow to get through but also some very interesting parts, a good read for Canada 150
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tough Tough to get through but necessary given Canada 150
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Tough Read, but Extremely Worth It I'm so glad I chose this book to read. Although many parts were difficult to read (in terms of content, not writing) and I often had to put in down for a few moments to recuperate, it was truly an amazing book. It addresses problems that have been plaguing our world and continue to be a prominent issue, so this a very eye-opening book. Loved it.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tragic This piece of fiction is an every day reality in Canada, a must read when thinking about Canada's 150.
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! I bought this book and I knew I would love it. I really enjoy learning about Indigenous Canadian culture, and find that it is so important to know our history as a country and know the impact we have had on The Indigenous for so many years now. This story is just one of many that this group of people have to live through daily. Really recommend this book. It's not too difficult of a read and it's great to hear the story from different POV's from people who have been affected by this in some way.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent & important book As another reviewer has already said, this book should have won Canada Reads. When researchers say that reading fiction can increase your capacity for empathy, they were talking about this book.
Date published: 2017-04-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book should have won canada reads Trigger warning for sexual assault and mentions of abuse, drinking and drug use in this book. This is a character driven story, however, there was just enough plot to carefully move the story along, compelling the reader to turn the page with subtle anticipation. It is around this plot that we get to know the characters in this multi-perspective book and eventually have their stories unraveled. In some multi-perspective novels, the voices of the characters bleed together, but that is simply not the case in this book. Each character’s voice is distinctive and emanates from the pages and despite the difficulty of tackling characters from a wide range of ages the author does so with finesse. The characters themselves were so painfully human and realistic. Some you wanted to protect from themselves, others you admired, and still some were difficult at best to understand. But seeing from all of these perspectives, even some of the more difficult ones, provides a well-rounded view of the world and seems to attempt to break the dichotomy of bad vs. good by reminding us that things are not quite so simple and the people are so, so much more than one thing. In short, this is a compelling story that unwinds the events of an attack through the distinctive and powerful perspectives of multiple characters. While it is a bit of a slow-burn book, you will not want to put it down as you get to know the characters even after the plot is fully revealed.
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping! I was required to read this novel for school so I was skeptical at first but within the first few pages I was hooked, I could not put the book down. I enjoyed that it was told most from the perspective of women, it is a (sadly) realistic and well written story.
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful book When I started this book (chosen by a member of my book club) I was steeling myself for a really depressing read. Although the content is heavy at times, it wasn't depressing at all. It's a beautifully woven story that highlights the resilience of women and the power of family bonds while shining a spotlight on the Indigenous community in Winnipeg (although the city is not named in the novel). The book prompted a fascinating discussion in my book club and was definitely worth reading. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book! I truly enjoyed this book. What a great read. This is the second book I have read from the Canada Reads List. Needles to say it did not disappoint. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a really gripping story. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Did not disappoint! I had heard a lot of positive feedback about this book, and it did not disappoint! None of the plot twists felt cliched and the characters - despite being so many - were for the most part well drawn and developed (you had a sense that Vermette would be able to tell you even more about each one than she was able to put into the novel). A painful read that left me feeling horrified at times, but the resilience and the strength of imperfect families shone through.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I enjoyed every part of this story.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing What a wonderfully heartfelt book. Loved it and I hope my granddaughter will too.
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful This was such a great read from start to finish, my heart couldn't handle it at times. Big thumbs up! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent. Really loved this book! The characters, the plotline, the dialogue were interesting as well as was written in a soft and interesting point of view. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This is an excellent novel, I would highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just WOW I saw an ad concerning Canada Reads and this novel, so I checked it out. I am so glad I did! Right from the start I was drawn into the story and could not put it down. The story flowed beautifully and ended perfectly.
Date published: 2017-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from PAge turner I really got into this book - great characters
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Good story and characters; interesting pov
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love! Really loved this book! The characters, the plotline, the dialogue. The writing was amazing and intriguing and complex. I loved the unique premise. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Work! I love this book! I was completely swept up in the story and really enjoyed the writing. I highly recommend The Break! I felt like I was reading something truly important. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing So much great stuff in here. They really knew what they were doing when they put this together. So alive and passionate, you could tell they put their heart into it. We would definitely recommend it, we know how much it means to us.
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely Totally loved it, what a great book, a real eye opener. Really fantastic stuff in here. So happy we got it, even works as a gift. Definitely going into our library, in our permanent collection. What more can I say, we are are truly pleased.
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Canadian female author Compelling storey of heartbreaking strength of female characters, living harsh reality of Winnipeg north end low income generational lives - read and become aware of raw reality.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This was a powerful and enjoyable read, a must read.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good Not enough good canadian writers
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful, Moving, Important This book provides a poignant look at the structural oppression of Canadian Indigenous communities and the power and resilience of First Nations women. A must read.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from didn't enjoy it didn't enjoy reading this book
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a story! An excellent addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Raw and Powerful Wow. It’s not enough, but it’s almost all I can say after reading Katherena Vermette’s The Break. This book is heavy and dark, but it’s also so incredibly important. It was necessary for me, as a Canadian, to read a story about my country from a perspective that is different than my own. I love the Canada Reads competition so much, because it brings stories like this to a greater audience. I actually picked this book up ages ago after Margaret Atwood recommend it on Reco, and I am so glad I finally got around to reading it. The story opens with Stella, shaken and afraid, providing two police officers with the details of a very violent crime that she saw take place through her window in the middle of the night. The officers have different opinions on the information they get from Stella – the older assuming it’s just gang violence, and the younger sensing that something more vicious has taken place. What follows is a perfectly crafted account of not only the crime, but everything that surrounds it. Vermette dives into social issues, gang violence, police apathy, racism, alcoholism, spousal abuse, and what it means to live life in a broken system. It’s gritty, it’s bleak, it’s real. The book is broken up into four sections, each containing a chapter narrated from the perspective of a different family member, as well as one of the police officers involved in the story. There are many characters to keep track of, but the family tree at the beginning of the book keeps everyone and their lineage clear. This could have become convoluted, but the opposite happened for me – as I discovered the familial connections I began to feel personally intertwined in their lives, almost a part of the family. The Break should be compulsory reading for Canadians. If anything I mentioned in this review speaks to you, please go and get this book. While the book is heartbreaking and raw, Vermette keeps the focus on the healing power of family and tradition. An absolutely stunning debut from a writer I will be watching.
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read book This book took me into the heart of the Charles family. The four generations have known the joy of love and children as well as the despair of betrayal and addictions. On a cold winter night, the family is drawn tight together by the sexual assault of one of it's youngest members. Emily is a carefree thirteen year old who can't imagine that anything bad could happen to her. When she urges her friend Ziggy to join her in sneaking out to attend a gang party, her life is forever changed. I did love this book, but it wasn't easy to read. The subject matters of abuse and broken families are sensitive topics. Not all novels can be filled with balloons and rainbows because real life is gritty. Author Katherena Vermette took her time introducing the large assortment of characters, their backgrounds and connections. Kind of slow reading at first as I kept referring back to the Charles family tree at the front of the book. Once I had met everyone, the story sped up and grabbed me in close. I could feel the closeness of the family as the narrative moved back and forth between the different women. None of them have had a dream life, but also, none of them had ever given up. They were held together by the love and stories of Flora (Kookom) mother, grandmother and great grand mother. This family has had it's hardships, but they have dropped everything and drawn in tight when needed. That is their strength which left me feeling hope for Emily and her generation. Does it make a difference in the story that the extended family is Metis. I feel that it does indeed. Over the past decades, the treatment of the various family members was determined by their heritage. The bullying at school, dismissal of their health concerns, and currently the initial dismissal by the police of the reported incident were all directly a result of them being Metis. . Hopefully this book is reaching a wide audience who realize that biased and unequal treatment due to a person's heritage is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our society. First Nations Friday is an occasional post where I review books by First Nations, Metis and Inuit authors. #IndigoEmployee
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful Storytelling Wow. It's not enough, but it's almost all I can say after reading Katherena Vermette's The Break. This book is heavy and dark, but it's also so incredibly important. It was necessary for me, as a Canadian, to read a story about my country from a perspective that is different than my own. I love the Canada Reads competition so much, because it brings stories like this to a greater audience. I actually picked this book up ages ago after Margaret Atwood recommend it on Reco, and I am so glad I finally got around to reading it. The story opens with Stella, shaken and afraid, providing two police officers with the details of a very violent crime that she saw take place through her window in the middle of the night. The officers have different opinions on the information they get from Stella - the older assuming it's just gang violence, and the younger sensing that something more vicious has taken place. What follows is a perfectly crafted account of not only the crime, but everything that surrounds it. Vermette dives into social issues, gang violence, police apathy, racism, alcoholism, spousal abuse, and what it means to live life in a broken system. It's gritty, it's bleak, it's real. The book is broken up into four sections, each containing a chapter narrated from the perspective of a different family member, as well as one of the police officers involved in the story. There are many characters to keep track of, but the family tree at the beginning of the book keeps everyone and their lineage clear. This could have become convoluted, but the opposite happened for me - as I discovered the familial connections, I began to feel personally intertwined in their lives, almost a part of the family. The Break should be compulsory reading for Canadians. If anything I mentioned in this review speaks to you, please go and get this book. While the book is heartbreaking and raw, Vermette, keeps the focus on the healing power of family and tradition. An absolutely stunning debut from a writer I will be watching.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from POWERFUL This look at urban Metis' struggles between and within cultures is one of the most emotionally difficult books I have read. That said, it is a essential read if we are to move forward into a world where racism, sexism and all other forms of internalized and systemic oppression are to be addressed in Canada. This book should win Canada Reads 2017!
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a story! A great addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read This is not the type of book I usually read. My grandma bought it for me for Christmas and I thought I would give it a try. I'm so glad I did. The Break grasps you right from the start. The characters are loveable and relatable. Their stories are so perfectly and intricately woven. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loving this book!!! This is my third book in the Canada Reads collection and so far it's my favourite. I find the writing style very well done and the story grabs you from the beginning. Well done!
Date published: 2017-03-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from mediocre good read and very inspitayional
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good read to understand women's intincts Katherena Vermette speaks from her heritage. Her characters seem very real and the scenarios believable.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful So freaking good! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This really is such a great novel, a must read for everyone.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Everyone should read this book!
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! Amazing book, I highly reccomned
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing Loved it! Great read. Would recommend.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heavy but gripping I'm trying to read more books narrated from the Métis perspective and this one was wonderful, though dark. There's a lot of violence and assault (physical and verbal). Ultimately the theme of the power and strength of women supporting each other made this a little more uplifting than one might think.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it #plumrewards. A riveting read
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This sounds amazing #plumreview This sounds very very good
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoed this Story The writing and plot are incredible. I could not put it down. Look forward to reading it again.
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Found this title a few days ago and was drawn to the plot from the blurb on the back. I found it heartbreaking but was drawn to every page. I would definitely recommend this!
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing first novel I had a hunch that this book was going to be amazing and my intuition was correct! From the first chapter I was hooked and managed to finish this in just a few days. You will never forget this strong and resilient group of women. There was a time when I was reading that I wished I could be transported into a room with them all and feel their love and compassion. I look forward to reading more by Kathleen Vermette,
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking and beautiful! This book follows the unravelling of a violent sexual assault and how that affects the victim and everyone connected to her. A beautiful and heartbreaking story about family and the strength it takes for the women to face the struggles that life throws their way.
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from pretty cool never really read these kinda books but it was quite interesting to read it.
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tragic and beautiful This book was gripping from the very start. For me, it was also gut-wrenching. On the surface, this is a story about a violent sexual assault, but it’s so much deeper than that. Vermette dives into the lives of each of the central characters (the victim’s family, the perpetrator, and one of the cops investigating the incident). We learn, quickly, that this is also about family, society, hope, and being Native. Each and every one of the characters has been shaped by the pain of assault, broken relationships, the death of loved ones, being Native, and family connections (or, the lack thereof). It makes for a stunning, tragic and beautiful narrative. Something that I haven’t seen mentioned in other reviews is how Vermette tackled the perpetrator. She didn’t present this person as evil, but as a victim of circumstance. Yes, she has chosen a life of violence and her actions were terrible, but we learn, through the book, that she was shaped by a broken mother and an abusive home. She’s tough and mean, but I couldn’t help wanting to reach out to her the same way I wanted to reach out to all the other characters. What set her apart was that she didn’t have the same support the others had, so she closed herself off to love, choosing gang life and loyalties instead.
Date published: 2017-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really interesting I was drawn in after some initial reticence. Took me into a world I didn't know.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Blew Me Away I saw this book because of Canada Reads and picked it up. I was not disappointed. It was a great book.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Impressive The author deftly manages writing the story from ten different points of view and does it with flair and aplomb. The ending is wonderful.
Date published: 2016-12-16

Editorial Reviews

"Vermette is a staggering talent. Reading The Break is like a revelation; stunning, heartbreaking and glorious. From her exquisitely rendered characters to her fully realized world and the ratcheting tension, I couldn't put it down. Absolutely riveting." - Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach "The narrator of this story is dead. He misses feeling the skin of others, but he likes being about memory. It's who we are siem. Katherena Vermette rendered the women of the North End gorgeous in her poetry: North End Love Songs. In The Break, she renders them sweet, beautiful battlers who love under the most horrific of circumstances. She points no fingers, just plots the story, person by person, memory by memory, until it is clear that we must give up the feeling of hopelessness that haunts the lives of these women. The Break is itself a beautiful love song of desire to live a full and rich life as cherished women - even when we cannot have that. We can hope. Resilient as the star world from which they arise these women reconcile with their lives without giving in to the horrors they have faced. Vermette captures the reader from beginning to end. She creates unforgettable characters with honor, respect and a deft hand. In so doing she holds the reader's tender love in her capable hands and weaves us right into the story. The Break is unforgettable." - Lee Maracle, author of Celia's Song"The lives of the girls and women in The Break are not easy, but their voices - complex, urgent, and unsparing - lay bare what it means to survive, not only once, but multiple times, against the forces of private and national histories. Katherena Vermette is a tremendously gifted writer, a dazzling talent." - Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing"Fiction is capable of helping us to comprehend difference and otherness, and The Break offers clear insight ino people struggling to secure a place in the world." - Candace Fertile, Quill and Quire"Katherena Vermette's poignant novel, set in Winnipeg's North End, opens with a violent crime that becomes the backdrop for a story of great depth and compassion. This masterfully written narrative shifts among the intergenerational voices of the women of one extended Indigenous family. The Break is a powerful, persuasive novel about the strength and love that bind these women to each other and to the men in their lives. The traditions and wisdom of a community are honoured, as is the exquisite individual humanity of each character. Although this is a novel of social importance, it transcends politics, taking the reader on a journey to the heart of what it means for one person to care about another, survive trauma, and endure." - 2016 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Jury Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla"The Break manages to be political even when it isn't. It's a book that explores social issues without ever preaching, or even seeming to be about them at all. It examines the only element of those issues that matter: their human impact. It's astonishing in its empathy... She doesn't pull her punches or dress up her truths. The Break leaves it all bare, and it demands to be read." - The Uniter"Vermette is skilled at writing with a language that is conversational and comfortable and with a poetic ease that makes the hard things easier to swallow. The result is a book that is at times emotionally demanding, funny, suspenseful, and always engaging." - The Winnipeg Review"Vermette offers us a dazzling portrayal of the patchwork quilt ofpain and trauma that women inherit, of the "big and small half-storiesthat make up a life." These are the stories our mothers, sisters andfriends have told us - the stories we absorb into our bloodstreamuntil they might as well be our own...a stunning debut - a novel whose 10 voices, Greek chorus-like, spanthe full range of human possibility, from its lowest depths to itsmost brilliant triumphs, as they attempt to make sense of this tragiccrime and of their own lives. "The Break" is an astonishing act ofempathy, and its conclusion is heartbreaking. A thriller gives us easyanswers - a victim and a perpetrator, good guys and bad guys. "TheBreak" gives us the actual mess of life." - The Globe and Mail"With adeptness and sensitivity, Vermette puts a human face to issues that are too-often misunderstood, and in so doing, she has written a book that is both one of the most important of the year and one of the best. Though Katherena Vermette is not an emerging writer - she has written seven children's books and won a Governor General's award for her poetry collection North End Love Songs - for many, this novel will be their first encounter. And it will be a revelation. Vermette is a fully matured literary talent confronting some of our society's fundamental problems through understated prose that exudes wisdom and emotion. Every page hides beauty amid suffering; love winning out over violence and hate. Stella, at one point in the novel, thinks about "[a] story that didn't happen to her but that she keeps and remembers." The Break is like that; it is a story that will stick with you a long time." - The National Post"In Vermette's poetic prose, The Break offers a stark portrayal of the adversity that plagues First Nations women in this country - and the strength that helps them survive." - The Toronto Star"A visionary debut novel." - CBC Books"Stunning . . . [Vermette] chooses her words with a poet's precision." - Literary Review of Canada"One of the great Indigenous novels." - First Nations Voice"Katherena Vermette's debut novel, The Break, takes a tough, close-up look at an extended family in Winnipeg, tackling along the way a side of female life that's often hard to acknowledge: the violence of girls and women sometimes display towards other girls and women, and the power struggles among them. In The Break, the characters may be Métis, but the motivations and emotions are surely universal. This is an accomplished writer who will go far." - Margaret Atwood"A debut novel brimming with grace and wisdom, that puts the spotlight on the systemic violence being committed in our country, [The Break] is both a wake-up call and a call-to-arms. Vital." - Globe and Mail"It's a timely novel that will keep you turning the pages and make you think well after you've turned the final one." - Niagara This Week