Consider Always Brave, Sometimes Kind as your next book club read. Below are several resources for group reading, including an event menu, party tips & favors, discussion questions, and a Family Tree featuring the friends and families of Always Brave, Sometimes Kind. The author is also available for virtual book club visits – if your group would like to ask questions about the novel, please get in touch!
Always Brave, Sometimes Kind is available for preorder and will be available for sale on September 29th, 2020.
Music plays a big part in Always Brave, Sometimes Kind, and these songs played important roles in inspiring the author through the creation of the book. Songs are listed as they appear (or inspired) each chapter. See if you can guess where each song places in the book! (Hint – some chapters have more than one song.)
Set in the cities, reserves, and rural reaches of Alberta, Katie Bickell’s debut novel is told in a series of stories that span the years from 1990 to 2016, through cycles of boom and bust in the oil fields, government budget cuts and workers rights policies, the rising opioid crisis, and the intersecting lives of people whose communities sometimes stretch farther than they know.
We meet a teenage runaway who goes into labour at West Edmonton Mall, a doctor managing hospital overflow in a time of healthcare cutbacks, a broke dad making extra pay through a phone sex line, a young musician who dreams of fame beyond the reserve, and a dedicated hockey mom grappling with sense of self when she’s no longer needed―or welcome―at the rink.
Always Brave, Sometimes Kind captures a network of friends, caregivers, in-laws, and near misses, with each character’s life coming into greater focus as we learn more about the people around them. Tracing alliances and betrayals from different perspectives over decades, Bickell writes an ode to home and community that is both warm and gritty, well-defined and utterly complicated.
- Joe Ponepinto, Orca Literary Journal
- Lindy Pratch, Lindy Reads and Reviews
- Carly Rigby, @carlyisreading
— Omar Mouallem, award-winning author, journalist, filmmaker
– HelenJane Shawyer, University English Instructor
- Liz Pomeroy, Irish-Canadian Lead Singer of 0Stella
- Erin Giese, Indigenous Social Worker
Doctors and nurses doing the best for their patients, social workers questioning the system, moms trying to find themselves amidst bills, kids and hockey, musicians balancing fame and tradition, fathers working sex phone lines to save their family. And they are all connected. Taking their stories in isolation would be like trying to separate the gossamer threads of a cobweb without destroying the beauty and majesty of the web itself. These stories are funny, ironic, heartwarming, and soul-breaking. And I will be reading this again, following the connections and threads through the years and families."
...There are moments of levity, moments where I had to wipe some tears, moments where I felt so angry at an injustice done. The characters are a diverse group from many different cultural and socioeconomic groups. Tough topics were handled in a tender way.
...I loved this ambitious novel. It made me think, feel, and seek to continue educating myself on Indigenous issues in Canada. A lot is packed into just 255 pages. At the end of what was at times an overwhelmingly heavy read, I did come away with the overarching themes of hope & kindness.
“Be brave. Be kind.”
- Meghan @plethora_of_pages
- Jen, @boberbookclub
The novel is a series of character-driven interconnected stories that will leave you with the familiar feeling of serendipity that comes with the strange and sometimes turbulent connections we experience in our own lives. With snapshots of the cultural realities of Northern Alberta from the past three decades, it’s a Canadian must-read. I devoured it like a Tim Horton’s maple-glazed."
- Heidi Klaassen, Coordinator, Alexandra Writer's Society