by Betty Jane Hegerat
With The Boy, Hegerat has skillfully woven together the fact of investigative journalism with the fiction of a novella using strands of memoir and a writer’s journal. She has created a compelling story surrounding a childhood memory from 1959 when a brutal mass-murder was committed and Robert Raymond Cook found guilty, becoming infamous for being the last man hanged in the province of Alberta.
I know this was a difficult book for Hegerat to write–she herself has described it at readings as “a beast of a book.” But in dredging up the memories, and researching extensively into this crime and the people involved, she has avoided simply retelling the gruesome details and has instead worked her way into the heart of this story, which although a localized event, in Hegerat’s hands it truly becomes universal in interest. Rather than answering questions, Hegerat raises more that should have been asked at the time – about the crime, the people involved, and how the story of it affected the community at large. This is a story that lives on in your mind long after you close the book.
Susan M. Toy
(This review has appeared elsewhere.)
Betty Jane Hegerat has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations. Susan M. Toy is the creator and publisher of Reading Recommendations and reading recommendations reviewed.