By Calyssa Erb
While the days may be blending into each other as we wonder how long this pandemic will last, there is some good news with these fantastic Canadian book-to-screen adaptations in the works. We may even see some as early as 2021. So, go ahead: take some time away from the latest reality show to show up on your streaming site of choice to read these thrilling novels and memoirs. You’ll want to be ready when these Canadian stories make their debut on the screen! Bonus: you can make a Pinterest board of which actor you’d like to see play each character after you finish reading.
A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose, by Samra Zafar
At 15, Samra Zafar had big dreams for herself. She was going to go to university, and forge her own path. Then with almost no warning, those dreams were pulled away from her when she was suddenly married to a stranger at 17 and had to leave behind her family in Pakistan to move to Canada. Her new husband and his family promised that the marriage and the move would be a fulfillment of her dream, not a betrayal of it. But as the walls of their home slowly became a prison, Samra realized the promises were empty ones.
Desperate to get out, and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for herself and her two daughters. Somehow she found the strength to not only build a new future, but to walk away from her past, ignoring the pleas of her family and risking cultural isolation by divorcing her husband.
A Good Wife tells her harrowing and inspiring story, following her from a young girl with big dreams, through finding strength in the face of oppression and then finally battling through to empowerment.
A Good Wife is currently being adapted for film by Pier 21 Films.
Trickster Drift, by Eden Robinson (Available on Audible Canada)
Jared Martin, seventeen, has quit drugs and drinking. But his troubles are not over: the temptation to slip is constant (thanks to his enabling, ever-partying mom, Maggie). He’s being stalked by David, his mom’s ex–a preppy, khaki-wearing psycho with a proclivity for rib-breaking. And Maggie, a witch as well as a badass, can’t protect him like she used to because he’s moved from Kitimat to Vancouver for school.
He figures that in order to be safe from both magic, addiction and David, he’s got to get his grades up, find a job that doesn’t involve selling weed cookies, and learn how to live with his Aunt Mave, who has been estranged from the family ever since she tried to “rescue” him as a baby from his mother. Though she smothers him with hugs, Mave is blind to the real dangers that lurk around them–the spirits and supernatural activity that fill her apartment.
As the son of a Trickster, Jared is a magnet for magic, whether he hates it or not. He sees ghosts, he sees the monster moving underneath his Aunt Georgina’s skin, he sees the creature that comes out of his bedroom wall and creepily wants to suck his toes. He also still hears his father in his head, and other voices too. When David finally catches up with him, Jared can’t ignore his true nature any longer. And neither can anyone else he loves.
Eden Robinson’s Trickster novels are coming to your screens this fall as the television series Trickster on CBC Gem.
Scarborough, by Catherine Hernandez (Available on Audible Canada)
Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighbourhood under fire: among them, Victor, a black artist harassed by the police; Winsum, a West Indian restaurant owner struggling to keep it together; and Hina, a Muslim school worker who witnesses first-hand the impact of poverty on education.
And then there are the three kids who work to rise above a system that consistently fails them: Bing, a gay Filipino boy who lives under the shadow of his father’s mental illness; Sylvie,Bing’s best friend, a Native girl whose family struggles to find a permanent home to live in; and Laura, whose history of neglect by her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.
Scarborough offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locatesits dignity in unexpected places: a neighbourhood that refuses to be undone.
Scarborough is currently in film production with Compy Films, Telefilm Canada and Reel Asian Film Festival.
The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel (Available on Audible Canada)
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later, Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.
Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.
The Glass Hotel is being developed for TV by NBC/Universal Studios.