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Review: “Just Pretending” by Lisa Bird-Wilson

Just Pretending by Lisa Bird-WilsonJust Pretending by Lisa Bird-Wilson
Coteau Books (2013)

Review by Kim McCullough

Just Pretending is the perfect title for Journey-prize nominee Lisa Bird-Wilson’s first book. This collection of short stories explores the multifaceted theme of identity. Bird-Wilson brilliantly exposes the Métis experience in a way that’s both critical and loving, but she also universalizes the struggles of her characters across race, gender and age. The narrators in these stories range from young women discovering their sexuality and maternal instincts, to drunken men well-past any prime they may have experienced.

Children and babies, some lost and some found, also figure prominently, functioning as either catalyst or foil to their mothers’ (and often fathers’) search for identity. Above all, everyone is a seeker, and at times, Bird-Wilson plays with the reader’s expectations when she allows the young ones to look at the world with experienced, critical, and sometimes jaded outlooks, while the adults approach conflict and change with the wide-eyed naiveté of children.

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