Paper, Scissors, Rock


181 pages
ISBN 0-88974-040-2
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick is a librarian at the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.


Attacking the overgrown bush around her family’s long-neglected summer
cottage, Jane Cammen reflects on her childhood, her parents’ unhappy
marriage, her mother’s strong political convictions and activities,
her father’s prolonged illness and death, and the lives of her
grandparents on both sides of the family. Ann Decter’s first novel
interweaves the telling of the histories of two families who suffered
from and fought against different types of social and political
inequality—European Jews who fled pogroms only to be caught up in the
violence of the 1919 general strike and anti-Semitism in the Canadian
Prairies, and Irish republicans who fought for independence in the early
part of this century and continued in political activities against
oppression. Although the narrative skips back and forth to the past, the
present is firmly located within the reality of contemporary Canadian
society and the social inequality, racism, and homophobia that exist
here, and the personal stories are always set within the context of
their political significance. Just as Jane’s symbolic cutting away of
the brush reveals to her more and more details of the original
landscape, the true details of her family’s experiences are revealed,
and she is able to come to terms with the events of the past and look
towards her own future.


Decter, Ann., “Paper, Scissors, Rock,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,