Grande Prairie Ink Review - The Broken Thread
Reviewed by: Alexis Kienlen
Smith's last book a gift for readers
Last year, Grande Prairie lost an influential literary figure; Linda Smith. Linda was a librarian, writer and lover of stories who passed away August 2007. Her passing left a hole in Grande Prairie's artistic community. However, Linda was able to leave behind one last gift, her final book The Broken Thread. The book was published thanks to the efforts of Linda's family and friends, and the fine people at Coteau Books.
I learned a few things about Linda in the brief time I was fortunate enough to know her. I know she was passionate about the power of story, and that she believed in trying to make the world a better place. I also know she was a woman of faith who tried to make a difference in the world.
I believe all of these qualities and beliefs shine through in her final novel. The Broken Thread is a fantastical tale about a 15-year-old girl named Alina who wishes to leave her home of Firth to join the Isle of Weaving, a mysterious place where women weave gorgeous tapestries. On one of her first days on the Isle, Alina changes one of the tapestries, unknowingly changing the lives of hundreds of people. The elder women on the island are concerned by her action and through some unexplained magic; they send her to another time and place where she must right the wrongs she has caused. Alina believes she must fix her mistake by killing a kind named Ranjan, but she quickly finds herself put in charge of the young kind, who is still a petulant and spoiled child living under the thumb of his father, King Berash.
Alina is an incredibly likeable heroine; she's resourceful, intelligent and curious. It's easy to get caught up in the story and in the alternative fantasy world Linda has created. I read the book in one sitting because I was compelled by the story and needed to know what happened next. I don't want to give away the plot, so I'm just going to concentrate on the themes of the novel and what I think it says about Linda Smith as a person. There's a kind of excitement and drive to the narrative.
The story is deceptively simple, but it's multilayered like the tapestries mentioned in the narrative. While this may seem to be a simple adventure story, it's really a tale about how our actions impact each other, and how something one person does can have a big impact on the lives and realities of anotehr person or group of people. It's also a story about taking responsibility, not in a boring way, but in a way that means trying to right wrongs and fix mistakes that have been made. It's also about how one decision can change the future.
In addition to these central themes, there's also an underlying theme of the power of story. In several cases, stories bring characters closer together, and break down some of the barriers between people. Stories instruct and bring better understanding.
The Broken Thread is a strong example of Linda's talent as a writer, but it's also a story that reveals some of her beliefs about a person's role in the world, about giving to other and about trying to make the world a better place. Reading this book was an adventure and a pleasure.