Wednesday 9 February 2011

Beverly Akerman's The Meaning of Children reviewed in The Globe & Mail

My first book, The Meaning of Children, was reviewed today in The Globe & Mail by freelancer Katie Hewitt. I had just begun pondering when (not to mention whether) the first review might happen...and then, there it was, in Canada's newspaper "of record."

Here's the beginning of the article:

Beverly Akerman - Beverly Akerman

The Daily Review, Wed., Feb. 9

How children can save – or take – your life


From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Beverly Akerman’s first vocation is genetics research. In her first book, The Meaning of Children, meaning tends to be somewhat scientific – usually externalized and observable, but not always revelatory.

Akerman follows children through the stages of adolescence, childbearing and the empty nest, occupying different decades, genders and narrative voices throughout 14 short stories. Disparate parts come together with recurring themes of sex, death, guilt and social prejudice.

This isn’t the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment...

The Meaning of Children: Stories, by Beverly Akerman, Exile Editions, 226 pages, $19.95

It's quite a fantastic review (spoiler alert: lots of story detail follows): The Mysteries, Akerman perfectly captures the anxiety of second-grader Rebecca after the birth of her little brother. Left to walk to school alone by her beleaguered mother, Rebecca meets a strange man who talks of hot chocolate and puppies. Her inner monologue runs wild wondering if the “don’t talk to strangers” rule applies when the stranger talks first. (“Why don’t they tell you what to do about moments like this when they tell you so much other stuff?”)

Rebecca’s innocence, her perception of the horror laced in her teacher’s silences, and ultimately her fear and a slight exaggeration of events to the police leave the reader almost as confused as Rebecca about the man’s intentions, all because Akerman writes as a believable eight-year-old.

Perhaps most compelling is Like Jeremy Irons. A mother “colonized” can only acknowledge her abortion in the third person, and painstakingly describes the procedure. The story defies the reader not to have a visceral reaction to her pain, her oscillation between a mother’s guilt and a feminist’s fierce resolve, and the sound of vacuum suction that’s “found something to hold onto, some meaning.…”

But don't just take my word for it--you can read the whole thing here!

Just released by Exile Editions, The Meaning of Children is available through and soon to a store near you!


  1. I absolutely love the cover, makes me want to read your book. Good luck with it and may many more follow!

  2. Thanks so much, Kelly! We went through so many different versions but this one was the keeper! Hope you're well!