Filling the Belly

by Tara Manuel
ISBN: 1894345568

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Filling the Belly
by W.P. Kinsella

Barely novella-length, Filling the Belly is a story poetically written and often very moving. Rosa, a girl of about 12 or 13, one of a wild pack of Newfoundland Irish, is very troubled. A terrible thing has happened to her, and she feels there is no one she can confide in, even though she has a loving family. Her mother who could have been of help is a slave to the simplistic views of the catholic church. Rosa feels empty and worthless, angry with the world and with herself; she engages in self-destructive behavior. Things get worse when her happy-go-lucky father falls ill and it becomes apparent he will not survive long. The father is a fanciful storyteller and the most touching moment in the novel comes the morning of his death, when one of his fantastical creations, an albino moose, appears in the front yard for the whole family to see.
Rosa's situation is resolved far too easily. She confides in her dead father the story she couldn't tell him while he was alive, and suddenly feels cleansed and renewed. This is very unlikely, since her trauma was so severe it would take years of therapy to alleviate. Still, this is an impressive, well written debut.

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