Bookish eight-year-old Imogene Murakami, nicknamed 'Egg,â- lives with her parents and her teenaged sister, Kathy, on an ostrich farm in Bittercreek, Alberta. Egg's older brother Albert has died in an accident, her father has moved to the barn, and her mother drinks to submerge her overwhelming grief. Egg has only Kathy to look after and out for her — and Kathy takes the responsibility seriously, going after bullies who torment Egg at school, telling her stories whose endings she changes (she has Anne Frank escaping to America and working as an actress on Broadway). Kathy dreams of escape from the tiny town and the smothering pain of her parents' grief, and it seems as if she might make it, with the help of a basketball scholarship. Her best friend Stacey makes escape sound like a project they can undertake together. Kathy and Stacey become lovers, but when it becomes clear that Kathy feels she cannot leave Egg, Stacey makes a decision to switch her allegiance, to turn her back on her friend. She starts dating a boy, and he and his friends torment Kathy, sensing that she is not something they can categorize. The sisters' relationship is threatened when Egg's teacher reads aloud from Charlotte's Web and Egg herself reads the end — the actual end — of The Diary of Anne Frank. How can Egg trust someone who has lied to her about everything?

In the hands of Tamai Kobayashi, Prairie Ostrich is a warm and compelling drama of rare insight and virtuoso verve. Kobayashi introduces a fresh perspective to Canadian literature, blending physical, cultural, ancestral, and sexual isolation into an account of one girl's attempt to find her place against schoolyard battles and the mysteries of the adult world. As Kathy's last year in high school counts down to an unknown future, Egg sits a quiet witness against a vast prairie canvas. As she watches her family unravel, she slowly begins to realize that not every story can have a happy ending.

March 4, 2014  |  200 pages
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Average Grade: B    (switch to numeric scale)
L/E Ratio: 50% Literature, 50% Entertainment
Writing Quality:
Low High
Originality:
Low High

Addictiveness:
Low High
Movie Potential:
Low High

Re-readability:
Low High
Sequel Potential:
Low High
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