I am not surprised at today’s vote.  It was a close one between The Bone Cage and Unless.  I wonder if the question about the best-written novel influenced the participants?

Ali Velshi answered this question by discussing how accessible The Best Laid Plans was and, as it was pointed out to him, it is not the same thing as well-written.

Debbie Travis adopted the same position as yesterday about The Birth House and I think she is right about it.  However, her comments on Unless were a bit weak: that all she was interested in was the story of the daughter and not the narrator describing the process of writing.  Each to their own, I guess, but as Lorne Cardinal rightly pointed out, writing should promote thought.

Another question was which novel speaks best to Canadian society (and by that they meant represents Canadian diversity)?  Again, I thought Lorne’s answer about the woman’s voice in Unless was pertinent.  Georges Laraque really seemed to have a problem with the difficulty of Unless; what he really wants out of this Canada Reads is to get teenagers introduced to reading.  I guess it’s a noble wish.

The last debate was about which book deals with loss most memorably?  All defenders had good inputs for their own book on this one, but again I thought Unless stood out a bit more.

Sara’s comments were quite insightful, I think.  I agree with what she said about The Best Laid Plans; that it is an entertaining read, something that will appeal to people but that it is not the best written of the books, a point reemphasised by Lorne.  Debbie did not finish it because she thought it was too much about politics?  Ah! Come on now!

I am not an expert in Canada Reads, but although Debbie’s defense stood out for me yesterday, I thought it was undermined by the comments she made about other books today.  On the other hand, Lorne’s arguments were very good, but I still doubt Unless will win.  Pity!

So now, we have a competition between The Best Laid Plans (a book that is accessible, entertaining, but not as well-written as the others), Unless (a beautifully written book that is the expression of the woman’s voice, but that might be too difficult to read) and The Birth House (a book grounded in history and deals with issues still relevant today).  I’m curious to know which aspects will most weigh in.

Tomorrow will tell…