Nonfiction

May 2019

The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds

For fans of Cheryl Strayed, the gripping story of a biologist's human-powered journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic to rediscover her love of birds, nature, and adventure.

During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab. Worried that she was losing her passion for the scientific research she once loved, she was compelled to experience wildness again, to be guided by the sounds of birds and to follow the trails of animals.

In March of 2012 she and her husband set off on a 4,000-mile wilderness journey from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, traveling by rowboat, ski, foot, raft, and canoe. Together, they survived harrowing dangers while also experiencing incredible moments of joy and grace -- migrating birds silhouetted against the moon, the steamy breath of caribou, and the bond that comes from sharing such experiences.
A unique blend of science, adventure, and personal narrative, the book explores the bounds of the physical body and the tenuousness of life in the company of creatures whose daily survival is nothing short of miraculous. It is a journey through the heart, the mind, and some of the wildest places left in North America.

In the end, The Sun Is a Compass is a love letter to nature, an inspiring story of endurance, and a beautifully written testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler

The dramatic true story of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade--codename Hedgehog--the woman who headed the largest spy network in occupied France during World War II, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days.

In 1941, a thirty-one-year-old Frenchwoman born to privilege and known for her beauty and glamour became the leader of a vast Resistance organization--the only woman to hold such a role. Brave, independent, and a lifelong rebel against her country's conservative, patriarchal society, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was temperamentally made for the job. Her group's name was Alliance, but the Gestapo dubbed it Noah's Ark because its agents used the names of animals as their aliases. Marie-Madeleine's codename was Hedgehog.

No other French spy network lasted as long or supplied as much crucial intelligence as Alliance--and as a result, the Gestapo pursued them relentlessly, capturing, torturing, and executing hundreds of its three thousand agents, including her own lover and many of her key spies. Fourcade had to move her headquarters every week, constantly changing her hair color, clothing, and identity, yet was still imprisoned twice by the Nazis. Both times she managed to escape, once by stripping naked and forcing her thin body through the bars of her cell. The mother of two young children, Marie-Madeleine hardly saw them during the war, so entirely engaged was she in her spy network, preferring they live far from her and out of harm's way.

In Madame Fourcade's Secret War, Lynne Olson tells the tense, fascinating story of Fourcade and Alliance against the background of the developing war that split France in two and forced its citizens to live side by side with their hated German occupiers.

Legacy: Trauma, Story and Indigenous Healing

Exploring inter-generational trauma in Indigenous communities -- and strategies for healing -- with provocative prose and an empathetic approach.

Indigenous peoples have shockingly higher rates of addiction, depression, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions than other North Americans. According to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, these are a result of inter-generational trauma: the unresolved terror, anger, fear, and grief created in Indigenous communities by the painful experiences of colonialism, passed down from generation to generation.

How are we to turn this desperate tide? With passionate argumentation and chillingly clear prose, author and educator Suzanne Methot uses her own and others' stories to trace the roots of colonial trauma and the mechanisms by which trauma has become inter-generational, and she explores the Indigenous ways of knowing that can lead us toward change.

This One Looks Like a Boy: My Gender Journey to Life as a Man

Inspiring and honest, this unique memoir of gender transition and coming-of-age proves it’s never too late to find your true identity.

Since he was a small child, Lorimer Shenher knew something for certain: he was a boy. The problem was, he was growing up in a girl’s body.

In this candid and thoughtful memoir, Shenher shares the story of his gender journey, from childhood gender dysphoria to teenage sexual experimentation to early-adult denial of his identity—and finally the acceptance that he is trans, culminating in gender reassignment surgery in his fifties. Along the way, he details his childhood in booming Calgary, his struggles with alcohol, and his eventual move to Vancouver, where he became the first detective assigned to the case of serial killer Robert Pickton (the subject of his critically acclaimed book That Lonely Section of Hell). With warmth and openness, This One Looks Like A Boy takes us through one of the most important decisions Shenher will ever make, as he comes into his own and finally discovers acceptance and relief.

Lorimer Shenher is an acclaimed author, public speaker, and advocate for marginalized people and police reform. His first book, That Lonely Section of Hell, detailed his assignment as the first detective on Vancouver’s missing women investigation. It was nominated for several literary prizes and selected as one of the Globe & Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2015.

Being Chinese in Canada: The Struggle for Identity, Redress and Belonging

After the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885—construction of the western stretch was largely built by Chinese workers—the Canadian government imposed a punitive head tax to deter Chinese citizens from coming to Canada. The exorbitant tax strongly discouraged those who had already emigrated from sending for wives and children left in China—effectively splintering families. After raising the tax twice, the Canadian government eventually brought in legislation to stop Chinese immigration altogether. The ban was not repealed until 1947.

It was not until June 22, 2006, that Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to the Chinese Canadian community for the Government of Canada’s racist legacy. Until now, little had been written about the events leading up to the apology. William Dere’s Being Chinese in Canada is the first book to explore the work of the head tax redress movement and to give voice to the generations of Chinese Canadians involved. Dere explores the many obstacles in the Chinese Canadian community’s fight for justice, the lasting effects of state-legislated racism and the unique struggle of being Chinese in Quebec.

But Being Chinese in Canada is also a personal story. Dere dedicated himself to the head tax redress campaign for over two decades. His grandfather and father each paid the five-hundred-dollar head tax, and the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act separated his family for thirty years. Dere tells of his family members’ experiences; his own political awakenings; the federal government’s offer of partial redress and what it means to move forward—for himself, his children and the community as a whole.

Many in multicultural Canada feel the issues of cultural identity and the struggle for belonging. Although Being Chinese in Canada is a personal recollection and an exploration of the history and culture of Chinese Canadians, the themes of inclusion and kinship are timely and will resonate with Canadians of all backgrounds.