Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor

Motorcycles & Sweetgrass
by Drew Hayden Taylor
Knopf Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-39805-5

Ok,  just before I post this review I would just like to say -- This is Canadian -- and it is FANTASTIC -- finally a piece of Canadian literature that showcases our sense of humor and doesn't depress the crap out of you!  I also would love to chat with this author on how much I loved his book and about his quirky sense of humor -- you must read this just alone for the conversation between Jesus and Nanabush (Trickster). I dare you not to laugh your ass off.

Description: A story of magic, family, a mysterious stranger . . . and a band of marauding raccoons.  Otter Lake is a sleepy Anishnawbe community where little happens. Until the day a handsome stranger pulls up astride a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle – and turns Otter Lake completely upside down. Maggie, the Reserve’s chief, is swept off her feet, but Virgil, her teenage son, is less than enchanted. Suspicious of the stranger’s intentions, he teams up with his uncle Wayne – a master of aboriginal martial arts – to drive the stranger from the Reserve. And it turns out that the raccoons are willing to lend a hand.

Good Stuff
  •  The authors realistic portrayal about life on a reserve in northern ontario.  Portrays them like any other Canadian living in a small community. Trust me there are characters like those portrayed in any neighborhood
  • Wonderfully realistic and quirky characters. 
  • Snappy witty dialogue
  • Drew pokes fun at his own people, while at the same time dealing with delicate issues such as non-natives attitudes to land clams and the horrific history of  Residential schools in a way which is humorous but at the same time doesn't take away from the seriousness of these issues or to point fingers or lay blame
  • The conversation between Jesus and Nanabush is worth the price of the book alone
  • Made me laugh my ass off on many occasions
  • Hopeful story about needing both the past and present and magic and reason.
  • Loved his ideas, thoughts and opinions on religion and his portrayal of Jesus is what I sort of hope Jesus would be like - a being with a great sense of humour, compassion and love
  • The scenes between Nanabush and the raccoons -- wonderfully unusual and downright laugh your ass off funny.
  • The beautiful scene with Nanabush and the chickadee is beautifully written
Not so good stuff
  • The only thing I can come up with that the first couple of chapters are a little confusing on who is who, but it is explained later in the book. You might have to reread the first 2 or 3 chapters
What I learned
  • All sorts of information about the legend of the Trickster in native folklore
  • A better understanding and appreciation of native culture
Favorite Quotes/Passage

"I read somewhere that most religions have pretty much the same message, they just use different books"

"Wise men and women aren't born wise - wisdom is something achieved over years of experience. And for some, that experience includes -- skinny dipping.

"Some think everything we are is rooted in the past. It is, partially. But like evolution tells us, if things don't develop, change, evolve, adapt, they die"

"John remembered the story of it raining for forty days and forty nights, and wondered if the Ark had started off in Vancouver"

"I think it's called the Bible."  "Yeah, needed and editor. No offence, but it went on forever and repeated itself""

Who should read
  • Pretty much anyone except for those who are extremely serious or sensative about religion
  • Book burners really would not like this - but who cares what they like
  • There is some violence and sex so not for the younger reader
5 Deweys  (I know still haven't figured out how to post a permanent post about rating system - see HERE)

Received this book from The New Face of Fiction campaign in return for an honest review


  1. I have total Canadian envy after a dream trip to PEI this past summer--I've been on the lookout for great Canadian lit ever since. This sounds like a must-read. Thanks!

  2. Hey Connie -- Enter my 25 Follower contest and even if you don't win I will mail you out my copy (Its quite dog eared though)

  3. I want to go to Canada - just to look around a bit

  4. Zoe Right -- come on down - its a pretty interesting country -- well most of it anyway
    ; )

  5. Great review! I'd never heard of this, but now I want to read it. I liked the review set up. It was a bit different than what I'm used to seeing, which was nice for a change. Very informative. :)

  6. Thanks for this review. I'm blog hopping today and am glad I found yours.

  7. Drew Hayden Taylor is coming to PEI this fall - part of the Pen & Inkling Festival.
    The website will be up with more information by july 20th 2011:

  8. Thanks Josie for the update -- will pass on to my PEI buddies too