Seniors Book Club January Selection

The Seniors Book Club will meet at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, January 8 in Forsyth Hall to discuss Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr Al Rabeeah with Winnie YeungHomes, a refugee story.

About the book

In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria – just before the Syrian civil war broke out.

Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends.

Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria. (Amazon)

About Winnie Yeung

Radio interview with Shelagh Rogers

Interview with Chuck Comeau for Canada Reads

Article in The Guardian

Article in the Edmonton Journal

Review in Quill and Quire

Review in Alberta Views

Book backgrounder for teachers

BBC News: Syria: The story of the conflict

Discussion questions


Canada Reads @ SAPL — Brother

Find out more about Canada Reads @ the Library.


Brother by David Chariandy

Brother takes us inside the lives of Michael and Francis. They are the sons of Trinidadian immigrants, their father has disappeared and their mother works double, sometimes triple, shifts so her boys might fulfil the elusive promise of their adopted home.

Coming of age in The Park, a cluster of town houses and leaning concrete towers in the disparaged outskirts of a sprawling city, Michael and Francis battle against the careless prejudices and low expectations that confront them as young men of black and brown ancestry — teachers stream them into general classes; shopkeepers see them only as thieves; and strangers quicken their pace when the brothers are behind them. Always Michael and Francis escape into the cool air of the Rouge Valley, a scar of green wilderness that cuts through their neighbourhood, where they are free to imagine better lives for themselves. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the 2018 Toronto Book Award and the 2018 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. It was also longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

CBC Canada Reads 2019 page on Brother by David Chariandy

Brother by David Chariandy review – a family on the edge of disaster (The Guardian, March 15, 2019)

David Chariandy’s Brother: Reviewed by Emily Donaldson (Canadian Notes & Queries, Winter 2018)

Video interview with David Chariandy on BT Breakfast Television (November 2017)

Author Bio (Writers’ Trust of Canada)

Canada Reads @ SAPL – Suzanne

Find out more about Canada Reads @ the Library!


Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette

Eighty-five years of art and history through the eyes of a woman who fled her family – as re-imagined by her granddaughter.

Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette never knew her mother’s mother. Curious to understand why her grandmother, Suzanne, a sometime painter and poet associated with Les Automatistes, a movement of dissident artists that included Paul-Émile Borduas, abandoned her husband and young family, Barbeau-Lavalette hired a private detective to piece together Suzanne’s life.

Suzanne, the winner of the Prix des libraires du Québec and a bestseller in French, is a fictionalized account of Suzanne’s life over eighty-five years, from Montreal to New York to Brussels, from lover to lover, through an abortion, alcoholism, Buddhism, and an asylum. It takes readers through the Great Depression, Québec’s Quiet Revolution, women’s liberation, and the American civil rights movement, offering a portrait of a volatile, fascinating woman on the margins of history. And it’s a granddaughter’s search for a past for herself, for understanding and forgiveness. (Publisher)

CBC Canada Reads

The Running Woman. Montreal Review of Books

Suzanne.Three Percent

She was a Rebel. Yanic Truesdale & Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette discuss her runaway grandmother.

Total Refusal: Refus Global, the Manifesto of the Montréal Automatists

Canada Reads @ SAPL – By Chance Alone


Find out more about Canada Reads 2019 @ the Library

By Chance Alone by Max Eisen

Tibor “Max” Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia into an Orthodox Jewish family. But in the spring of 1944 — five and a half years after his region had been annexed to Hungary and the morning after the family’s yearly Passover Seder — gendarmes forcibly removed Eisen and his family from their home. They were brought to a brickyard and eventually loaded onto crowded cattle cars bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau.

At 15 years of age, Eisen survived the selection process and was inducted into the camp as a slave labourer. One day, Eisen received a terrible blow from an SS guard. Severely injured, he was dumped at the hospital where a Polish political prisoner and physician, Tadeusz Orzeszko, operated on him. Despite his significant injury, Orzeszko saved Eisen from certain death in the gas chambers by giving him a job as a cleaner in the operating room. After his liberation and new trials in Communist Czechoslovakia, Eisen immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he has dedicated the last 22 years of his life to educating others about the Holocaust across Canada and around the world.

Eisen will be donating a portion of his royalties from this book to institutions promoting tolerance and understanding. (Publisher)

By Chance Alone was a finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize and for the 2017 Non-Fiction Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature.

Max Eisen shares the hardest thing about being a writer

Why Canada Reads author Max Eisen wrote a book about escaping death during the Holocaust

Why Ziya Tong is defending By Chance Alone by Max Eisen on Canada Reads

Max Eisen bracingly honest in his Holocaust memoir (CJN: The Canadian Jewish News)

Review: By Chance Alone (Quill and Quire)

Auschwitz survivor Max Eisen revisits horrors for memoir (The Globe and Mail)

RBC Taylor Prize: Spotlight on Max Eisen (Macleans)

Surviving Auschwitz: TVO transcript of interview with Max Eisen

Canada Reads 2019 @ the Library

canada-reads-2019-booksWe’re back for our 4th annual Canada Reads @ the Library program!

Our celebrity panel is set, and will defend their books on

Friday, March 22, 2019
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Forsyth Hall in St. Albert Public Library

Click here to register for this fun, free evening.

And now, our panellists and their CBC Canada Reads titles that they will be defending:

Jesse Lipscombe, returning champion, will defend Brother by David Chariandy
Curtis LeBlanc, poet and writer, will defend The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong
Celina Loyer, Aboriginal Programmer at the Musee Heritage Museum, will defend By Chance Alone by Max Eisen
Matthew Stepanic, 2019 EPL Writer-in-Residence, will defend Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette
Stephan Womack, Dept. Head of English, Fine Arts & Languages at Bellerose High School, will defend Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung

Check out details about the contenders, and let us know which book you think should win!