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Thursday, October 11, 2018

#Book #Review: 2 out of 5 stars for Wherever I Find Myself edited by Miriam Matejova

PUBLISHER: Caitlin Press
PUBLICATION DATE: February 7, 2017
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 167 pages
GENRE: Nonfiction
ISBN: 9781987915341
Edited by Miriam Matejova, Wherever I Find Myself is a diverse collection of stories about the joys and struggles of immigrant women living in Canada. Often bringing with them the shadow of war and the guilt of leaving, the women in this new anthology expose their emotional pain but also their gratitude for being able to call Canada home. Their stories paint touching and charming portraits of cultural and linguistic misunderstandings, bureaucratic hurdles, attempts to navigate unfamiliar landscapes, and a desire to be accepted despite differences in accent, skin colour, or taste in food. Together they form a mosaic of emotions and world-views that underline the immigrant condition for women.

A yellow dress with ruffles, a kind Grade 1 teacher with a surname that’s difficult to spell, cockroaches in the bathroom, the contempt of strangers, and Whitney Houston on the radio–a Filipino woman recalls her experience as a six-year-old immigrant in a ghetto in Mississauga in the 80s. Browsing through a Polish fashion magazine at a European deli, a woman sees herself in an alternative universe of what her life might have been had she never immigrated to Canada. A same-sex couple moves from Minnesota to Ontario to find refuge for their love, but first they must drive a seventeen-foot truck through a blizzard and make it through the frustrating net of Canadian bureaucracy. In search of her origins, a Jewish woman travels to her birthplace in Passau, Germany. There, among rows of European picturesque houses and foreign tombstones of a Jewish cemetery, she finds no memories, only the shadow of Hitler and the ghosts of her parents.

Through these stories of courage, aloneness, and hope, new and established writers reach out to both immigrants and those whose families long ago ceased to identify with the immigrant label. Through their struggles and, at times, endearingly critical looks at Canada, they remind us that many of our perceived divisions are nothing but artificial creations of mind and that all of us are past, current, or potential immigrants.


I am a first generation Canadian. My parents both immigrated to Canada with their families, although they all arrived at different times. I know from my family's personal experiences the hardships that they endured and how they came here with nothing but the clothes on their backs and had to start over from scratch. They had to learn learn the English language and become educated, and then to find a job. It was extremely difficult for them, but they were grateful for the opportunity that Canada afforded them and they strove for success so that their children would have more than they had growing up. So, immigrant stories are dear to me. If my parents never immigrated, I would not have been born in Canada and my life would most certainly be very different. So, when I saw this book on my library's bookshelf, I was immediately drawn to it. 

I really wanted to love this book but, for the most part, I found the stories very depressing. The overall tone of most of the immigrant stories in this anthology was that the writers felt like they didn't belong anywhere...that they felt like they didn't fit in here in Canada and that they missed their homes that they left. I can understand that, and I can only assume that these stories were written very soon after their arrival in Canada. Hopefully, they were able to make better lives for themselves and have learned to appreciate all that Canada offers!


2 stars!! Meh, it was just "okay."

This book qualifies as:


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