This book transported us back to depression era Toronto as well as to life (if you can call it a life) on the rails during the same period. The story of Irene and her family is darkly compelling in its gut-wrenching heartache. All three members of the family are afflicted by the ravages of improperly treated mental illness and an ill advised sense of propriety (what WILL those neighbours think?). This mixed with the story of David leaving his home in hopes of finding something better, only to be thrown into a life of danger and desparation, travelling around the country, trying to survive.
However, what I found just as compelling, perhaps more so -- particularly as someone who now enjoys the benefits of unions -- is how horrific the living conditions were, for those hardest hit by the depression. I remember hearing the stories from my grandparents about how hard life was in the thrirties. My mother was born in Toronto in 1932, right into the worst of it. However, in spite of my family's tales of woe, they suffered little (my grandfather always had a decent job) in comparison to many people in the same area and across the country. Union organization and social programs sprung up as a result (thank heavens!!) but reading about it in such a frank way, really makes me appreciate how far Canadian social programs have come and how lucky we are for the Labour movement, in spite of what the media and corporations try to make us believe!!!
With such bleak subject matter, this could easily have turned into a depressingly hard book to read. Not the case. The matter-of-fact style along with the tenacity and dogged determination of the central characters to perservere in hopes of something better, kept me enthralled and, best of all, looking for more information!
This is another great read from Ms. Davis! I look foward to more!!!