Inspired by the CBC Canada Read’s Top 10 list, I picked up a copy of Zoe Whittall’s “Bottle Rocket Hearts“. There are so many obvious reasons why this book was chosen to be in the running to be a Canada Reads title, it is filled with Canadian history, but more importantly it has stunning characters and a plot that is well thought out and unique.
Set in the beautiful province of Quebec in the 1990’s (’95-’96), we meet a young girl named Eve who is looking to escape her parents home and discover her sexuality and feelings towards women. Eve meets the breathtaking and striking Della who in the gay community is well-known and has a reputation of being unfaithful to her partners. Despite Della’s flaws, Eve is automatically drawn to Della, despite their age difference. Known as having a “baby face” Eve enters a world of love, jealousy and passion.
When Eve finally leaves her family’s home, she moves in with the flamboyant Seven and tidy writer Rachel, both of whom are homosexual and welcome her into their home after verifying what kind of music she enjoys and gaining the approval of their cat.
Set in a time known as the “Quebec Referendum”, we experience Eve’s observations as Quebec voted to possibly be separated from Canada and operate as their own state. It’s a passionate topic for Della and it provides an insight into a time when everyone across Canada was on edge to hear what the results would be, ultimately the results ended up being that Quebec would remain a province of Canada.
With a strong Canadian voice, Zoe Whittall has written a novel that is fresh and informative. Eve may have started off in the novel as a young, naive girl, but this coming of age story, is a great example of how life and experiences ultimately shape and mold each and every one of us other the years. I don’t want to give too much away, but Eve will become one of those people we all root for in a novel.
It also touches on the cruelty towards homosexual individuals, again, I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that this novel discusses the cruelty that homosexuals can experience. Even today, 3 years after Zoe Whittall wrote this novel, we are still sadly hearing about children being bullied and ridiculed for their sexuality. It’s seems that this community has come so far, but in reality, people are still being mentally and physically abused for their choice to love someone of the same sex. I think this is so sad and I hope everyone is striving to get behind projects such as “It Get’s Better“, because everyone has the right to equality.
If you’re a fan of brilliant Canadian fiction, you should definitely go pick up a copy of Zoe Whittall’s fabulous coming of age story, “Bottle Rocket Hearts“, I can promise you that you’re in for a treat, especially when you read the last two pages!
Remember to stay tuned to the CBC for the top 5 results that will be announced on November 24th!