*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: To Me You Seem Giant
Author: Greg Rhyno
Publisher: NeWest Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
It’s 1994 and Pete Curtis is pretty much done with Thunder Bay, Ontario. He’s graduating high school and playing drums in a band that’s ready to hit the road. Even though his parents, teachers, and new girlfriend seem a little underwhelmed, Pete knows he’s on the verge of indie rock greatness. Fast-forward ten years, Pete finds himself stuck teaching high school in the hometown he longed to escape, while his best friend and former bandmate is a bona fide rock star.
Although I’ve never been a huge music buff so many of the references in Rhyno’s book evaded me, I still really enjoyed this striking narrative that really portrays a quintessentially Canadian experience of growing up and living in a more rural city–full of mixed tapes and video stores. I was born around the time that this story is taking place, so I wasn’t completely aware of the references in this book until a bit later in life, but still, I felt a connection with the character and the city he lives in. The city that Pete Curtis calls home, Thunder Bay, has about 50,000 more people in it than the town I grew up in, but Curtis’ experience are so similar and relatable to my own. Rhyno had me laughing more than once at many a “typical” small town Canada reference. At least across Ontario, the smaller cities and towns aren’t so different from one another.
I really liked that this stories doesn’t sugar coat anything, but nor is anything too bad. The protagonist, Pete, never left his hometown, and now he’s doing very little–just working in a less than exciting teaching job and simply existing in this place. His present is contrasting with his past, often blaming failure on those around him, yet never really taking control of his own life. He’s a very passive character overall, but he seems to have found at least complacency, if not some contentment, in his passivity. In his present, he’s trying to find a bit more meaning to his life as he reflects on how he got to where he is and learns to take a more active position in his own life, rather than simply being and allowing life to wash over him.
This is a story of being and finding some meaning in life. It’s not about making huge changes or altering the course of ones life, but of being and seeking out the small things to find happiness. It’s a truly Canadian story that I think anyone who came of age in the 90s will really enjoy.