If you like Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, you'll love Don Tillman. He is a genetics professor at the University and quite pleased with his life except that he is missing a wife. As a highly intelligent man with Asperger's (a condition on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum) and a scientist, he reviews his previous failures at romance and determines that he needs a questionnaire for wife candidates. In typical Don Tillman fashion, his survey for The Wife Project runs to 16 double-spaced pages .He tries speed dating and on-line match-up sites. The results are disappointing and he begins to wonder if he isn't meant to find a wife. Enter Rosie. She is totally unsuitable - in dress, in education, in attitude. Thinking his friend Gene has sent over a possibility for the Wife Project, Don jumps right in and asks her out. She accepts although she seems a little surprised. Thus begins The Rosie Project which soon transcends The Wife Project. As a geneticist, no one is better qualified than Don Tillman to help Rosie find out who her real father is. Rosie is as engaging and socially adept as Don is inept. Together they hatch schemes to collect the DNA samples of men who may be her father. Adventure and hilarity ensue. You'll be cheering for Don, crying for Rosie and the best part is, it works out in the end. Five stars for The Rosie Project.
Thomas King's first novel in 15 years explores the aftermath of environmental disaster and the danger of ignoring our surroundings. Samaritan Bay on the northern British Columbia coast was once a thriving tourist destination. Great sea turtles laid their eggs on the beach and the hatchlings made their way to the ocean. Sea and shore life was abundant. There was a First Nations reserve at nearby Smoke River. Then came that awful day, The Ruin, when something poisoned the river and everything died, including most of the humans.
The book opens as Gabriel Quinn contemplates his life on the beach before he ends it. He never quite gets around to killing himself. A group of survivors keeps him interested enough to hang around. Mara, Sonny, Crisp and the dog, Soldier all play their role.
Meanwhile back in Toronto, Domididion, an fossil fuels/agricultural chemical giant is looking for their missing head scientist, none other, than Garbiel Quinn. The CEO,A series of spills from tailing ponds on the Athabasca River demonstrates how quickly we forget environmental disasters and how easy it is to divert attention from them. The spill affects the Athabasca River and the MacKenzie all the way out to the Arctic Ocean.
Alternating chapters let the characters tell their story as they all but Dorian search for redemption in some way. The ending (spoiler alert) is uplifting as the turtles return and life re- appears in the ocean. I am too skeptical to believe the earth heals itself so easily. Still, King has written a page turner.
Naomi Klein spent five years researching and writing This Changes Everything. It is a difficult book to read, not because it isn't eminently readable but because it forces us to confront the terrifying facts we have been doing our best to avoid. Climate change is here and if we don't take drastic measures, may soon cause devastation to vast swaths of the earth. Expect more super storms, more flooding, more violent weather, more droughts and misery for humanity.
The problem is, of course, the costly consumer lifestyle, the profit greed of big oil and our resistance to change. In order to prevent catastrophic climate disasters, we must keep our global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celcius and must cut 8-10 per cent of of carbon dioxide emissions in a very short time. We are, instead increasing our emissions. It seems hopeless and there are a myriad of examples of climate change effects on both humans and other species.
Klein argues we must become respectful of the earth and use renewable resources, restore what we use. Since the 1700's and the industrial revolution humans have thought the earth was theirs to conquer and control as they wish. It isn't true.
Working hard to turn things around and avert disaster are local movements like Blockadia and the political will of indigenous people to get back in harmony with nature. We must switch our energy sources. Oil companies are so vested in growing and taking more oil and making bigger profits that the development of sustainable energy is stunted. Government is in bed with Big Oil and our Prime Minister has leaped in more joyously than most. Hidden in his omnibus bills are acts that strip the laws and regulations protecting the environment. Thousands of scientists have lost their jobs, all in the name of profit. We are in a free trade agreement with China. Free trade agreements are hell on environment because any local efforts to regulate pollution or develop sustainable energy alternatives or products can be challenged as unfair to trade pacts.
Our greatest hope seems to be a growing group of movements to prevent oil drilling in sensitive areas, fracking (which has horrifying environmental and health risks),laying pipelines and building gas plants. This movement is led by the poorest among us- the poorest countries and the poorest people. First Nations bands are legally forcing governments at all levels to honour the treaties which guarantee an environment where they can follow traditional lifestyles.Perhaps all is not lost.
Read this book if you care about your children and grandchildren.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.