Once, in A Town Called Moth

Once, in A Town Called Moth

Book - 2016
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Ana is not your typical teenager. She grew up in a tiny Mennonite colony in Bolivia, and her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now Ana and her father have also fled, and Ana doesn't know why. She only knows that something was amiss in their tight-knit community. Arriving in Toronto, Ana has to fend for herself in this alien environment, completely isolated in a big city with no help and no idea where to even begin. But begin she does- she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the myriad unspoken codes and rules. She is befriended by a teacher. She goes to the library, the mall, parties. And all the while, she searches for the mother who left so long ago, and tries to understand her father -- also a stranger in a strange land, with secrets of his own. This is a beautifully told story that will resonate with readers who have struggled with being new and unsure in a strange place, even if that place is in a classroom full of people they know. Ana's story is unique but universal; strange but familiar; extraordinary but ordinary- a fish out of water tale that speaks to us all.
Publisher: Toronto : Tundra Books, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781101918111
Branch Call Number: KENT
Characteristics: 220 pages ; 22 cm


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Dec 07, 2016

This is a little story about Anneli who has lived in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia all her fourteen years until her father suddenly packs them up and returns to Canada. They change their names and take up residence in Toronto, where her father believes her mother, who ran away from the colony ten years earlier might be living. Why they have fled Bolivia is the central theme of the story.

Personally I found it disappointing the lack of information or research that Trilby Kent did in showing us the life Anneli would have lived in Bolivia as a Mennonite. There was very little given about the Mennonite culture or community which was a big drawer to the book.

The book sometimes feels confusing and chaotic as Anneli's thoughts and observations are as she tries to make sense of her new culture with the mindset of her old culture where God was the centre of her life and every decision made. As she assimilates into life in Canada her faith melts away, which raises the question did she really have a faith of her own or was it simply a cultural statement for her. This question is never even raised, much less explored.

The story is told from current day Toronto with flashbacks from the colony she lived in in Bolivia. We are privy to Anneli's hunt for her missing mother and trying to make sense of her father's choices and behaviour when he continually avoids telling her anything. We see the struggle to make a relationship with the mother and we see the father unable to cope with life in a busy city.

I was hoping for more than it delivered.

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