Book Review: Crow by Amy Spurway

Crow – Amy Spurway (Goose Lane, 2019)

Stacey Fortune has returned home to die. She’s crawling back to Cape Breton Island to move in with her mother, her brain riddled with tumours. Her life in Toronto has not turned out exactly how she hoped but she isn’t eager to return to Cape Breton either. She’s known there as Crow, one of the Fortunes, a family full of lunacy and secrets. It just so happens that her two best friends from high school (who no longer speak to each other) have moved home as well and soon Crow is caught up in all the comedy and drama of small town life. She’s determined to unearth some family secrets, particularly what really happened to her dad.

Crow is lots of fun. It highlights the wacky, wonderfulness of Cape Breton, a place that has a long history in Canadian lit. Spurway pushes back against the traditional views of the island though, instead highlighting the eccentricities of its inhabitants and the poverty that Crow and her family and friends struggle against. The book has a somewhat happy and magical and unrealistic ending but mostly stays on the side of believability. The characters are over the top and likeable, even while they’re crazy.

Crow as the narrator is self-deprecating and hilarious. She is full of references and nostalgia and brutal honesty. Her relationships are complicated and honest and a lot of fun to watch. You wouldn’t think a book about someone dying of brain tumours would be so fun to read but it is. But in amongst the fun is also a lot of real conversation about family and poverty and generational cycles. Spurway does a fine job of balancing these topics and it will be wonderful to see what she writes in the future.

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11 thoughts on “Book Review: Crow by Amy Spurway”

    1. It is hard to find that balance. I’m not sure you’ll be able to find this one outside of Canada yet but hopefully in the near future!

    1. You know, I’m not entirely sure. There are just a lot of books written about the island, especially relative to its population. It has quite a distinct culture with a blend of Scottish and French ancestry and Gaelic speakers, as well as being known for its music. I think they really pride themselves on being a unique culture and have worked to maintain that distinction.

  1. Not easy to make a book about someone dying hilarious, so kudos to the author for pulling it off! I prefer that attitude really to books that force us into vicarious grief (just a personal preference – I know many people find comfort in books about grieving) so I’ll look out for this if it ever shows up over here…

    1. No, not easy at all, especially not in a way that still treats death and all the emotions surrounding it seriously.

  2. It’s weird, all the reviews i’ve read about this book and everyone says it’s so fun! I love reading funny books though so I think I’d enjoy it. I’m guessing the ‘magic’ at the end means she survives? You don’t have to spoil it, but I do hope so! haha

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