Winter Child

Winter Child

by Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau
translated by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli

May 2, 2017
5.5 x 8, paper, 168 pages
CDN $21.95

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A visceral, luminous novel about a Métis woman tracing the life and death of her son.

One late September day, amid the year’s first snowfall, the winter child is born. He does not breathe. His mother watches helplessly until “at least the baby uttered a first tentative croak like a frog unsure of spring’s arrival.”

Then again, and again, and again, the winter child narrowly avoids death’s reach. His mother knows “he would be her wound, she would have to battle to keep him with her, to defend him against the worst of all enemies.”

Originally published in French and told through alternating and overlapping memories, Winter Child is a powerful meditation on grief and life. With a poet and storyteller’s language, Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau traces a mother’s journey from devastation to strength, descending to the darkest inner depths, and finally finding the generosity of life and love.

Reviews and interviews

“Pésémapéo Bordeleau shows the reader how guilt is often a parasite of grief; and as the mother weathers her son’s death, she starts to release the albatross of continuing life without him. Pésémapéo Bordeleau is a talented wordsmith and Winter Child is an amazing work of art.” – What’s Up Yukon, December 6, 2017.

“Bordeleau’s writing is beautiful, filled with stunning meditations on parenthood, grief, forgiveness, and intimacy… Bordeleau’s novel delicately and honestly traces how grief can rupture a life, and shows how love and kindness can repair it.” – Broken Pencil, Fall 2017.

“Poetic and hauntingly beautiful, Winter Child delicately describes, yet does not get swallowed up by, grief’s gaping hole.” – Canadian Notes and Queries 100, Fall 2017.

“Both raw and poetic, Pésémapéo Bordeleau’s novel is ultimately about healing and continuance, through dreams, ceremony and the partner who is meant for the time.” – Globe and Mail, July 21, 2017.

‘The writing is stunning, it reads more like an extended poem than a short novel, so it was easy to dive in and out of, or for those feeling more ambitious, an entire read through in one go. It’s also written from the perspective of an Indigenous woman, and with Canada Day just behind us, it seemed like an appropriate way to honour our Aboriginal population.” – I’ve Read This, July 2017.

“Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli’s translation of the French original blends romantic turns of phrase with the transformative storytelling power of Pésémapéo Bordeleau’s Cree and Métis ancestors… Winter Child is a collection of narratives about complex relationality, death, loss, and moving through grief, despite it all. Though the mother has experienced unspeakable abuse and trauma, she continues, and with love to boot. Pésémapéo Bordeleau has woven together an exercise in sitting with and moving through pain.” – Lindsay Nixon, Montreal Review of Books, Summer 2017.

On CBC Radio Homestretch “Summer Reading List,” July 2017.