- Paperback: 210 pages
- Publisher: Groundwood; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 1 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0888994761
- ISBN-13: 978-0888994769
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 20.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,993,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
True Confessions Of A Heartless Girl Paperback – Oct 1 2002
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No wonder True Confessions of a Heartless Girl won the 2002 Governor General's Award for children's literature. Author Martha Brooks, celebrated for edgy young adult fiction that digs deep--including Bone Dance and Being with Henry--charts the waterways of the human spirit in this superb novel, which deftly walks the tightrope between fiction for older teens and adults.
Seventeen-year-old Norene Stall blows into the little town of Pembina Lake in southwestern Manitoba like a bad wind on the tail of a fierce summer storm and transforms the lives of those who try to take her under their wings. Norene is on the run after stealing her boyfriend's truck and a whack of cash, along with his heart. And she's pregnant to boot. Fiercely independent, stubborn, and probably the cause of more trouble than she's worth, she nonetheless worms herself into the affections of Lynda, the harried owner of the local café, and her five-year-old son, Seth, who she's raising on her own; 76-year-old Dolores, the oldest First Nations waitress in Manitoba, who has her finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in town but who can't quite get her own life in order; and Del a bachelor farmer and sometime poet who's deeply in love with Linda but afraid to do anything about it. True Confessions is a novel full of startlingly poignant insights into the rich inner lives of ordinary, yet always extraordinary, people. --Jeffrey Canton
With every novel, Martha Brooks pushes the boundaries of Young Adult fiction a little bit harder, a little bit further. She does it ever so quietlyperhaps hoping that well get so embroiled in the lives of her characters that we wont notice whats different about her approach this time or where it is that shes taking us. Part of the trick is that she keeps delicately exploring that same little corner of southwest Manitoba which shes called her own in novels as different as Two Moons in August, Bone Dance and Being with Henry and those marvellous short story collections, Paradise Café and Traveling On Into the Light. Granted, its never the very same place but the sense of it is at the heart of all of her fictions. Its Heron Lake where 83-year-old Henry Olsens old friend Merry has a cottage and where 17-year-old Laker Wyatt discovers just who he really is; its that burial mound near Fatback Lake where Alexandra Sinclair and Lonny LaFreniere connect body and soul. And in True Confessions of a Heartless Girl, its Pembina Falls where like an ill wind Noreen Stall sweeps into the lives of its denizens just like the furious July thunderstorm in which shes just been run off the road. Noreen is herself running, from all the mistakes shes made, in the truck that shes stolenanother mistakefrom her erstwhile boyfriend , Wesley Cuthand, along with nearly seven hundred dollars, his unborn child and his heart. Little surprise then that its one of the contend ers for this years Governor Generals Awards.
What makes True Confessions of a Heartless Girl such a unique experience is that Brooks doesnt just tell us Noreens story, though Noreen is undoubtedly the eye of the storm that comes crashing through Pembina Lake. Her marvellous true confessions of her unforgivable Deadly Sins (Pride at age 12, Lust at 14, Sloth at 15, Anger at 16 and Covetousness at 17), which make up the second part of the book, give us most of the background that we need to understand why Noreen is where she is.
But what of lost and desperately lonely Lynda Bradley, trapped in Pembina Lake, stuck running the Molly Thorvaldson Café which she absolutely hates and trying her best to make sure that her son, Seth, has the best life a child can? What of those two old crones, Dolores Harper, the Oldest First Nations Waitress in Manitoba, and Mary Reed. Fast friend s for more decades than either cares to remember, their friend ship just isnt what it used to be. Dolores, for one, isnt sure why. Sitting and playing penny poker, filling their evenings with gossip about Lynda, Del and now Noreen and Wesley, both are haunted by secrets neither is yet quite comfortable sharing with the other? A dark and painful secret lies behind the overwhelming grief that has for decades torn apart the life of bachelor poet and farmer Del Armstrong, who is deeply in love with Lynda but doesnt know how to tell her; the harder he tries to look after her and Seth, the more awkward he feels. Is he destined to die brokenhearted? In the very way that life itself works, the various and sundry pieces are all there, we just have to figure out how they do or dont fit. Its the multiple voices and visions that Brooks offers us in True Confessions that allow us to really feel as if were interacting with her characters, not just watching whats happening in their lives. She gives us a taste of the heartbeat that is Pembina Lake, a rare and wonderful gift.
True Confessions of a Heartless Girl is a book that should have been nominated in both the category of Childrens Literature and the Adult Fiction category for this years Governor Generals Award. Share this book with old readers, and younger ones too. You wont be sorry. Itll become one of those literary experiences that youll truly savour.
Jeffrey Canton (Books in Canada) -- Books in Canada
Top customer reviews
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We sympathize with Noreen, at the beginning, because we're apprised of a bad stepfather. We understand clinging to a good boyfriend. Stories need a hurdle but I couldn't buy half of them. Fleeing the first time Wesley is critical? At Pembina Lake, two ladies help her out. A middle-aged farmer offers an unused cottage. But can you think of anyone not giving a “do's & don'ts” tour about fireplace safety? Would you not open a flue for a city child? Even if that were believable, did the guy need to lose valued photo albums? One lady lost an adult daughter, two others are too timid to admit being in love. A thirty-seven year-old is written like she is fifty. The array of “life's disappointments” felt made-up for tear-jerkers.
A personal deal-breaker: I loathe any hint of animal disposability. This novel's saint remarks of his cat's family: “I didn't have the heart to get rid of these ones”! Should anyone applaud not murdering kittens? Outrageously, he lives near a veterinarian. Spay your cat! I like that this isn't about a tough chick, as the title suggested and that the outcome of the story it does entail is unexpected. I admire that adults grow-up in concert with Noreen and how gracefully <b>Martha</b> describes Manitoba; never writing superfluously.
Everyone in this town has a secret, so it should be the perfect place to hide. But Noreen brings chaos wherever she goes, and soon, the town is turned inside out.
But can Noreen face her past and her feelings? Or will she, too, try to disappear in Pembina Lake?
If you are looking for a book about being a pregnant teenager, this is a pretty good choice. If you're looking for a fascinating read, I'd pass.
Brooks does a great job of portraying the emotion and angst that go along with teen pregnancy, but eventually, Noreen's refusal to accept help becomes grating. The pacing is a little slow for my taste, as well.
She turned onto the main street -- the sound of the lake a whisper behind her, the leaves of the tall trees now talking overhead -- she saw his truck parked in front of the café and Wesley sitting inside it....
He didn't seem to notice as she got closer, his eyes closed as if he was concentrating on something. With her hand on her stomach, she steadied herself. The window on the passenger's side was open and she could see the distinct curve of his dark lashes as they rested against his cheek.
"Wesley," she said quietly....
She felt a hot sting of shame. She wanted to hide. But in Pembina Lake, beside a truck, in front of a café, wheat fields and sky flaming pink and orange and gold all around, there was absolutely nowhere to go.
In the midst of a heaven-rattling summer storm a young stranger blows into a small prairie town. On the run after taking her latest boyfriend's truck, with a pocketful of stolen money and a heart full of pain, seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall seems to invite trouble.
And trouble comes soon enough, as Noreen's new mistakes trigger calamities that shake the lives of the residents of Pembina Lake.
Seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall is pregnant and frightened and not knowing what to do, steals her boyfriend's money, truck, and begins driving until she reaches the sleepy-eyed town of Pembina Lake. She soon discovers that everyone in this crazy town has a secret, for her, it's the perfect place to hide! But Noreen has a knack for stirring up trouble and it follows her wherever she goes drawing unwanted attention to herself.
This wasn't a novel that rated high on my reading list, cute enough, but not anything even close to serious literature and fiction. Unfortunately, this not the type of book that I would recommend to anyone.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Set in present-day Manitoba, the story follows self-proclaimed heartless girl Noreen. World-weary at 17, pregnant and on the run from her boyfriend Wesley (the first kind boy she's ever been with), Noreen steals his truck and his cash and winds up broke and alone in a small farming town not far from Brandon. Against her better judgement, Lynda (the operator of the local cafe) takes Noreen in and gives her a job. And thus she unwittingly unleashes a storm the likes of which the denizens of this small town have never seen. Each of them carry their own burdens. Lynda herself has escaped an abusive relationship and is raising her three-year-old son Seth on her own, while managing to run the cafe. Dolores Harper, the local wise woman, shows up sporting her "Meddling for Jesus" sweatshirt, ready to help the new girl open up. And Del Armstrong, the resident middle-aged bachelor, does his best to help Noreen, all the while unable to forgive himself for the tragedy that occurred the year he was her age. But will any of them be able to see beyond their own personal issues to save each other from their demons?
TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A HEARTLESS GIRL ought to be swallowed in one satisfying session, I think. The writing is spare but weighty. Brooks' words leave a mark on you long after your eyes move past them on the page. We get the story from the perspective of Noreen, Wesley, and several of the inhabitants of Pembina Lake--the small town of Noreen finds herself unable to leave. I loved the characters with their strengths and weaknesses, all of them prominently on display. Noreen isunbearably heartless at times. She is also sensitive and imaginative and capable of love. But where she walks, trouble follows. Everyone she comes into contact with meets with disaster as some point in the tale. But somehow they're unable to just wash their hands of this girl and let her go. Despite their own numerous personal issues, the people there take her in, feed her, give her work, and just try (sometimes against all reason) to help this girl whose life has been seemingly cursed since the day she was born. And then there's Wesley. The Cree construction worker with a sky full of stars and careful hands. I liked that he didn't let Noreen trample him underfoot. I liked that he yelled and stomped and left when he should. I get tired sometimes of the Tireless Good Guy. The one who's always there and comes back even when she doesn't deserve him. On the contrary, these two find their way back to each other only when their eyes can see clearly again. When Noreen learns how to stay still and not run. The vastness of the prairie is in this slim novel. It is exquisite and I love it.
Try Martha Brooks' other books as well.
This is a story ostensibly about 17-year-old Noreen and her attempts to find her place in the world. Awkward in the way every teenage girl is, Noreen tumbles from one disaster of her making to another. Profoundly clueless about her own heart because of a mildly-abused and semi-abandoned childhood, Noreen is unable to recognize love and caring when she does encounter it. When she drives into the tiny Manitoban town of Pembina Lake in her ex-boyfriend's stolen truck she is shattered, exhausted and possibly pregnant.
We see the town clearly, even though Noreen does not at first. Lynda, the struggling single mother who owns the town's failing cafe, takes Noreen under her wing. Dolores, grandmother to the entire town, who proudly wears a shirt that says MEDDLER FOR JESUS, feeds her mint tea and some hard advice. Del, who works endlessly on a cottage in which no one lives, offers her the cottage and a chance for redemption in return for a "full accounting". Mary, Dolores' life-long friend, suddenly grown snappish and hurtful; Seth, Lynda's 5-year-old son; even Tessie the dog, all have their own problems. Noreen perceives herself as the cause of all this trouble.
Yet gradually, as Noreen begins to mature under the guidance of so many helpful strangers, we learn that troubles come to all of us, that thirty-year-old heartaches are just as deep as those we feel at 17, and can seem just as unsolvable to those involved. Brooks brings us to the edge of that cold lake of frightened adolescence that still lives in each of us. "What if she says no and laughs?", "What if he doesn't love me after all?"
Then she tosses us in, and laughs at our affronted pride.
This is not a novel about a girl in trouble. It's a story about the ordinary, everyday troubles that we all have, and the way that sharing diminishes them. It's about love in all its manifold dimensions. And it's about the redemption that can come to any of us from making a true confession and rendering a full accounting.
I recommend it for readers of any age.