Son of A Trickster

Son of A Trickster

Book - 2017
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Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers' Trust of Canada Fellowship, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otters . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy.

Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who's often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he's also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can't rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)--and now she's dead.
Jared can't count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can't rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family's life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat...and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he's the son of a trickster, that he isn't human. Mind you, ravens speak to him--even when he's not stoned.
You think you know Jared, but you don't.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred Knopf Canada, [2017]
Copyright Date: �2017
ISBN: 9780345810786
Characteristics: 316 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

List - Canada Day
JacksonO_OshLib Jun 25, 2020

Jared has a tough life. His father can barely support their new family, and his mother isn't ever sober for long enough to be a parent. Jared copes with these troubles through booze and marijuana. But his grandmother, who never really liked him, says that he's the son of a trickster, something no... Read More »


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Stéphanie_biblio Jun 09, 2021

I did enjoy this book and was glad to support the author. The writing puts you directly into Jared's head and his perception of his 16 year-old life (substance abuse, poverty, absent parents, etc.). However, the description of the setting (place and characters-interesting though they may be) takes up a large part of the novel before any supernatural elements really start to take off and the story begins to develop. A missed opportunity for a truly great story.

Apr 21, 2021

I can't believe I got drawn into this trilogy since normally I don't read fantasies of supernatural beings. This book like the previous 2 is captivating, gripping, moving and extremely well written with such creative imaginations, but I only gave it 3 stars due to the extreme violence that not only haunted Jared but me as well. The ending is very satisfying as we are all rooting for Jared. I am enriched by the mythical legends of the first nations.

P.S. Sorry, this review is actually for The trickster returns, the final book in the trilogy.

Mar 20, 2021

Well. That was quite a ride! Robinson’s portrayal of 16-year-old Jared being raised in a wildly dysfunctional setting is both laugh-out-loud funny and painful. A graphic, unflinching look at Native life in northern BC, it is laced with drugs, alcohol, compassion, incarnate hallucinations/myth, puke, monsters, squalor and love.

What I loved most were the four very brief chapters written in italics with an omniscient point of view. Robinson’s language here is rich, almost poetic. It’s a peek through the cosmic cracks at our forgotten myths and spiritual essence. For me, these chapters were like a puzzle to be solved, the “bigger picture” underlying Jared’s story.

Tigard_AnnmarieA Mar 19, 2021

You'll be hard-pressed not to fall in love with Jared, the young narrator of this coming of age/fantasy novel, a smartass, heart-of-gold, troubled young man growing up on a First Nations reservation in a dysfunctional family up in Canada. Contemporary culture meets native mythology in this totally profane, hilarious, dark novel. Warning: substance and other abuse features, and also cannibalistic otter people.

Jan 20, 2021

There’s a lot to like about this book. The use of language is quite effective, it’s very funny and enjoyable even as it occasionally touches on dark subject matter. I liked the inclusion of both indigenous traditions and contemporary indigenous culture – it celebrates beliefs and values that centuries of colonialism failed to dismantle but doesn't romanticize indigenous communities in to some outdated stereotype. I also appreciated the references to the legacy of racism in Canada, specifically residential schools, the Idle No More movement, and other issues. This forces the reader to consider contemporary indigenous culture through the lens of history, and forces them to consider the modern implications of historic wrongs.

Where I feel the book strikes out hard is pacing. The first two-thirds of the book is a touch meandering before the author slams you with a few condensed chapters of exposition that’s both hard to follow and appreciate. It’s so rushed that the emotional weight of what the reader is reading isn’t given time to sink in.

Finally – and I hope I’m not spoiling too much in saying this – the final chapters show the protagonist making a critical, life-changing decision before fast-forwarding to the implications of this decision. To the author’s credit, she does a great job showing how isolating it can be when you make a drastic change to your life that your social support network does not support. However I don’t think this alone is enough, especially as the way it’s written, the protagonist showed less initiative than is usually required to initiate real change. I think this development would have been more compelling if the author had allowed him to reflect on his why it was time for change and how he altered his routine to ensure his own recovery.

To be fair, this book is the first of a trilogy. Like I said, the author does a good job of showing how lonely self-improvement can be, and it’s possible that many of the items that were touched upon in the final third of the book may be developed further in the trilogy. However, I think even a book in a series should be able to stand on its own, and this book would have been stronger if the author had developed the themes and conflicts more in the first half of the book. It would have made the resolution both easier to follow and much more satisfying.

Final thoughts: good start. It’s part of a trilogy and may expand its world in successive books. Recommended for fantasy buffs looking to diversify their reading materials.

Nov 11, 2020

This book is a very well-written account of a First Nations teenage boy living in a "party house" and mostly raising himself. Not as much magic as I expected, but still a great book. I respect Robinson for not flinching away from writing a gritty story that is rarely told.

That being said, this story may hit too close to home for a lot of young First Nations/Native American people, or for anyone who grew up in a household like Jared's. Because as far as I can tell it is a very accurate and unfiltered depiction of what life can be like for a teenager like Jared. A teenager who has almost no positive influences in his life, who has easy access to drugs and alcohol, and whose day-to-day life is put in constant tumult by those around him. I'm glad we catalogue it as Adult Fiction, because while there are some great humorous moments at times, most of the book is quite dark.

BPLpicks Mar 07, 2020

Son of a Trickster is the first of five finalists in the upcoming Canada Reads debates which run from March 16-19. Tune in to hear what the panelists have to say about this original, coming of age story by much loved, Canadian author, Eden Robinson.

Feb 29, 2020

It's YA fiction which I am not the correct age to comment didn't really appeal to me, but Jared is a likable enough kid living in ridiculously bad circumstances. This is one of the Canada Reads books for 2020.

Jan 19, 2020

I read Monkey Beach years ago and I quite enjoyed it but I really didn’t enjoy this book for a variety of reasons. I’m surprised that it has such good reviews as I honestly thought it was terrible and I forced myself to finish it. First, it’s a book that is mostly made up of dialogue and I found that very annoying. Also, the book introduces so many different characters and that made it difficult to follow. Then there’s the magical realism piece that starts happening half way through the novel. It started so late in the game so it was just very confusing. It’s also very unrealistic as Jared is in grade 10 but the way he speaks and the relationships he has are way beyond what a 16 year old is actually like. The sex scenes with the 16 year old kids really grossed me out and the sexual talk his mom/step dad participated in that was done in front of Jared was distasteful to say the least. There was nothing redeeming about the abusive mother and I did not sympathize with her at all. Basically Son of a Trickster was a bad and disturbing read and it is most definitely not for teens.

Kay Thomas
Nov 24, 2019

Such a cool book, very dark and quite serious at times. I was so excited to find out that this is part of a trilogy, I want to know more about Jareds Trickster heritage!

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Jan 11, 2021

dstradling thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Nov 12, 2017

Jared hadn't thought anything could be worse than almost being eaten by otters, but he was wrong.


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