Heidi Elder is a young writer from Nepean, Ontario, currently enrolled in the literary arts program at her high school. With a passion for fiction, she hopes to someday incorporate the same level of meaningful absurdity in her own writing as Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five. Her work can be found in Polar Expressions’s student anthology, The Quiet.
Gratitude is something we are reminded to acknowledge every day. While we are aware that others have lives harder than our own, it’s something else entirely to read about such lives in detail—to attach a human face to the concept and rid ourselves of our own ignorance, if only slightly. Phyllis Dyson’s debut, Among Silent Echoes: A Memoir of Trauma and Resilience (Caitlin Press, 2021), is well-researched and portrays its themes of mental illness with a sympathetic, understanding, and personal perspective. She recounts the story of her life, depicting the impact her mother’s schizophrenia has had—and continues to have—on the way she views the world.
Even in lives riddled with tragedy, there are always moments, if scattered, that give hope for the future. Nova Scotia author (and Understorey Magazinecontributor) Laura Best builds on this duality in every aspect of her latest novel, Good Mothers Don’t (Nimbus Publishing, 2020). Best details the after-effects of electroshock therapy and other ‘treatments’ for mental illness in the mid-1900s, only to then contrast them with warm themes of motherhood, family, and home. She portrays her characters in their many shades of gray, never sacrificing their realism to earn the affections of her readers. Among Best’s characters, none are completely evil and none are completely innocent; there are only broken people, and those who are a little more broken than others.