Miriam Toews || All My Puny Sorrows

Let me be clear on one thing: Toews has addressed a brave and difficult topic, the right to take one’s own life in a dignified way. If what she describes in AMPS is what happened to her own father and sister, one understands why she is clear on this topic. Especially the way Elf is treated in the hospital after her attempts to take her life is awful. She has no dignity left at all. I sympathised with Yoli who is fighting to keep her sister alive, I felt sorry for Elf who ultimately sees no other option than jumping in front of a train, I could imagine the pain of all involved. Unfortunately I do not think AMPS is a good novel. It is kind of ‘so so’. It is almost as if the novel itself collapses under the weight of its daring topic. I would have liked to have read more about the conflicts with the Mennonites, or to get better acquainted with Yoli and Elf’s mother who I really liked and I would have liked to have had the laughs I was promised by The Guardian. I laughed exactly once when Yoli describes the Christmas play in which she determinedly takes the role of Maria’s sister. I could just see the 6 year old playing that part.
Toews has been brave to write this personal novel, I almost feel sorry that I did not like it more.


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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