2013 Canada Reads Winner: February by Lisa Moore

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The 2013 Canada Reads winner has been announced as February, by Lisa Moore. February has been described as “an incredible portrait of grief and difficulty moving on” and is set in the perspective of Helen O’Mara, a character who loses her husband on the Ocean Ranger: an oil rig that sank of the coast of Newfoundland in 1982.

The book’s author, Lisa Moore, started off as a visual arts student but now works as a writer fulltime. “What I love about being a writer is being able to step into the shoes of characters that are very different from myself and really trying to imagine how they feel the world, how they see the world and creating that world.” This is her second novel and she has also released a volume of short stories.

When Moore was asked about the competition she spoke of the overwhelming suspense, “Because all of the books were really great, the tension and suspense through all the weeks was just crazy.” Although Moore’s book took a few hits during the process she says that she didn’t mind because the discussion was so honest and people spoke from their hearts. She was grateful to have been able to listen to such a discourse, and maintains that “any one of them is worth reading.”

The Ocean Ranger was an actual oil rig that went down on Feb. 14, 1982 killing all 84 men aboard. “I chose to write about the Ocean Ranger because it’s something that matters to all Newfoundlanders, I think,” says Moore. Ironically, the book won the award on thethirty-first anniversary of the tragedy. The book’s defender, Trent McClellan, fought back swells of emotion as the book trailer played during the ceremonies and McClellan reaffirms, “I agree with Lisa, the incident is still very prominent in Newfoundland today. It’s a lot about risk and the risk of human lives in industry”, says Moore and deals a lot with safety in the work place.

The novel is set 25 years after the event, but flies back and forth between past and present through Helen’s memories. Moore explains, “It goes back and forth in time, because it is a lot about grief. And I think that memories don’t come to us in any kind of an order, they come in all kinds of random orders, they come from our senses- when we smell something, when we touch something.” Helen is remembering her life with her husband Cal; coming to terms with her loss through those memories.

If you’re looking for some other reads some her opponents were, Chen Huynh’s Indian Horse, David Bergen’s The Age of Hope, Jane Urquhart’s Away and Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes.