Quill & Quire Review - Morningstar
Quill & Quire
Reviewed by: Laurel Smith
The horrors of a life immersed in alcoholism, childhood sexual abuse, and racism are sadly the reality faced by many native people in Canada. The courageous journey to overcome such barriers and trauma forms the background for Morningstar Mercredi's autobiography.
With both parents having endured a horrific childhood within the residential school system imposed by a paternalistic church and state, Mercredi inherited a legacy of alcoholism and violence. Add to that parental abandonment, childhood sexual assault from within the family, and systemic racism from without, and the odds of Mercredi becoming a healthy member of society are stacked against her from the beginning. Yet, as she herself states, it was also her legacy of survival against such odds that allowed her to heal and forgive both herself and those who abused her.
In travels both literal and figurative, Mercredi uncovers her family's painful history while searching for answers to heal her own troubled soul. Her restless spirit is both her downfall and her triumph as she seeks to face the truth of her nightmare childhood and confront her own toxic behaviour. While written with emotion and searing honesty, the prose is often rambling and full of irrelevant information. It raises the question of how one shares such intimate and horrendous details without descending into the banal. The litany of horrors leaves the reader feeling somewhat overwhelmed, leading to a distancing effect. It is perhaps the result of a too-reverent editorial hand that leads to this lack of satisfaction with the book as a literary work.
However, Mercredi's remains a story that needs to be told, if only to remind us once again of the historical and present-day crimes against First Nations people. And while, as Mercredi make clear, the solutions that get us closer to justice are not simple, the telling of stories such as hers at least guarantees that the atrocities against Mercredi and her people are no longer hidden.
Laurel Smith, a freelance writer, playwright, and theatre director in Toronto.