The following is a review by Naomi MacKinnon of Consumed by Ink. This excerpt is published by her kind permission.
I’m on a roll with these criminal type characters; all of them mostly into drugs. Johnny from We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds, Daniel from In the Cage, and now Jared. Jared is different, though, in a significant way – he’s still a teenager, living at home with his mother. Except for the times when his mother’s in a mood and he stays with a friend for a while.
Jared’s had a rough go of it; his maternal grandmother thinks he’s the Trickster and doesn’t like him (“Get, you dirty dog’s arse.”); his mother has a volatile personality (and colourful language); his father left them for another woman and, unbeknownst to his mother, Jared’s been helping him out with his bills using his “cookie” money; he’s been abused by one of his mother’s ex-boyfriends; his mother and her new boyfriend go off for days at a time leaving Jared home alone; he recently lost his beloved pitbull, Baby Killer. And those things don’t even touch what goes on at school and with his peers.
He wanted to believe his mom was sorry, but his dad was always sorry and he still kept doing crap he had to say sorry for. He didn’t want to be a sucker, but he didn’t want to be alone. Everything ached and all the choices felt wrong.
The one constant person he has in his life is his paternal grandmother. They text back and forth whenever he feels the need, and she ensures him he can come live with her whenever he wants. Her unconditional love is his only safe place in an otherwise crazy world.
Jared’s mother loves him too – fiercely at times – and she is very protective of him. (“I’d kill and die for you, Jelly Bean… Don’t ever forget that.“) But her love seems to come with conditions. She expects certain things of him, like complete loyalty and his help with the family “business”. Her number one advice for Jared is “The world is hard. You have to be harder.”
Which is hard for someone with a compassionate personality like Jared’s.
Continue reading this review here: https://consumedbyink.ca/2017/10/24/giller-shortlist-son-of-a-trickster-by-eden-robinson/