Photo courtesy Amazon.ca
Sometimes I find the most interesting books at thrift stores! I recently discovered such a treasure.
Hiding Scars was written by Winnipeg author Richard Zaric. Oddly enough, the modern-day attractive cover made it difficult for me to place the story in time, until I read the book’s backflap. Hiding Scars is a historical fiction story about Ukrainian immigrants living in Winnipeg during the years 1913 to 1919.
Since I grew up in Manitoba, and am somewhat familiar with Winnipeg, I enjoyed reading about places I already knew. One of my first full-time jobs was working in the credit department of the historic Hudson’s Bay downtown head office.
Hiding Scars follows Marko, a recent Ukrainian immigrant, and Mildred, the daughter of a rich industrialist in Manitoba’s capital city. Marko works for Mildred’s father. The novel explores gender roles, class difference, and racism as Marko and Mildred navigate through the Great War, prohibition, the Spanish flu epidemic, and finally, the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.
Zaric’s novel is well researched and I think the characters are well developed. I became invested in them quickly. The plot unfolded effectively and held my attention. The story arc contains an interesting mystery thread about Marko as we wonder why his wife and child perished in the old country. Why didn’t they immigrate with him? The ending caught me by surprise.
I found the violence perpetrated by returning WWI veterans and Winnipeggers against the Ukrainians disturbing. Was it really that dangerous to be a Ukrainian “Enemy Alien” on the streets of Winnipeg at that time? The fear and violence were palpable. I feel compelled to investigate this further.
Hiding Scars is an easy-to-read, informative, and fast paced thriller. Zaric’s story is so engaging that I found it painless to ignore the small typos and errors that I found. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about our history during one of Canada’s most tumultuous periods of social upheaval.
Zaric’s book was published in 2018 by Sands Press, a small traditional publisher from Ontario. I suspect it didn’t have the benefit of a significant promotion campaign. Maybe that explains why I haven’t seen it before? Hiding Scars currently has 5 reviews for an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 on Amazon.ca.
What is the most interesting historical fiction novel you have found in a thrift store or jumble sale?
Heart Stones: A Ukrainian Immigration Story of Love and Hope, is my own historical fiction novel, based on my grandparent’s difficult immigration to Manitoba before and after WWI. It was published in early 2023. Visit my website for more details about Heart Stones, read reviews and check out my Bookstore page, listen to recent CBC radio interviews, my offerings for book clubs and to check out my other blog posts. While there, you can download Chapter One from my book, it’s absolutely free!
Note: If you find yourself in Canmore on September 28th, 2023, consider visiting the library at 7 pm where I’ll be doing an Author Fireside Chat with fellow author Nikki Tate. Or if you are in Cochrane on October 4th, I will be giving an Author Reading at 6 pm at the library there.
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