Not the Orient


158 pages
ISBN 0-7780-1198-4
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Lynne Perras

Lynne Perras teaches communication arts at the University of Calgary.


Not the Orient is a disturbing novel, yet one that is hard to put down.
Set in present-day Montreal, it explores the familial dysfunction that
courses down through generations to affect Claire, the young heroine.
Other main characters include Claire’s mother, Thelma, a thoughtless
and insecure stripper who brutalizes Claire; Claire’s ogreish
grandmother, Olive, who abused her own children (especially Thelma);
Thelma’s obnoxious, unfaithful, and alcoholic boyfriend, Nick; and
Claire’s supportive friend, Annie. Claire responds to the intolerable
pressures of family life by acting out at school and retreating into
fantasy. At the library, a temporary refuge, she reads about other
long-suffering victims with whom she can identify.

Not the Orient boasts well-rounded characters, convincing dialogue, and
a compelling story (although the conclusion is a bit abrupt). All in
all, a powerful study of childhood abuse and one girl’s efforts to
transcend it.


Moore, Maureen., “Not the Orient,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,