"The Nehewin's travelling habits were curtailed when the buffalo population, once an ocean of brown on the plains, withered to a few hundred. The Canadian government stepped in and created protected reserves for the buffalo where they now grow fat but remain wild. Then they created reserves for the Native people where they grew also fat and remain a little wild." -Nobody Cries at Bingo, p. 28.
Nobody Cries at Bingo is about the main character, Dawn, growing up on a reserve in Saskatchewan and all the mischief that she gets into throughout her childhood. It's been described as part novel, part memoir, which I think is accurate, since the voice of the narrator is clearly the voice of young Dawn rather than the voice of the author looking back on her childhood. Having the book be told through the voice of young Dawn just makes the book that much funnier, since she's a very sarcastic and dramatic character who always seems to be getting herself into trouble (which is one of my favourite types of characters to read about).
The book starts when Dawn is just starting school, and ends when she is in her first year of law school after she leaves the reserve, although most of it takes place during her elementary school years. Nobody Cries at Bingo is more a collection of stories about her childhood than anything, but each story is hilarious and super entertaining. Dawn describes with her wry humor the ridiculous happenings of the reserve and her large extended family. Mostly, though, the stories chronicle Dawn's ridiculous plans to best everyone around her, and failing at it. There's one story about her and her siblings idolizing Conan the Barbarian, and then accidentally getting into a fight with other girls. At the end of that chapter, Dawn decides maybe Conan isn't the hero for her: "Swiftly my mantra changed from what would Conan do, to what would Wayne Gretzky do? Now all I had to do was learn how to skate."
The wry, ironic style of humor that is used throughout the book (and also that I love) reminded me a lot of the humor style of Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness, as well as the funny life observations from The Slow Fix by Ivan E. Coyote.
If you want a quick, light, entertaining and absolutely hilarious read, I'd definitely encourage you to pick this book up!
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