Review: February by Lisa Moore

In 2013, February by Lisa Moore was the winner of Canada Reads. I only just caught up and had the chance to read it recently. It reminds us of an important part of Canadian labour history: the story of the Ocean Ranger, an oil drilling unit off the coast of Newfoundland that sank in 1982, killing the 84 men on board.

Review: February by Lisa Moore
Page content

The novel itself tells the story of Helen who loses her husband in the incident and struggles with grief throughout her life. She recalls memories, navigates dire economic situations, raises four children and constantly reflects on the painful memory of that morning in February where she learned her husband and life partner wouldn’t be coming home from work.

The author relied on historical material such as inquiry reports on the incident to construct the story. As a result, we learn about the company’s safety shortfalls and lacking procedures that combined to cause so many workers to lose their lives. 

The title of the book may give the impression that the author will take the reader through a sombre, frigid journey of pain and sorrow. This is not the case, thanks to a non-linear, personal and at times humorous writing style. With a story that spans the length of a lifetime, the book is surprisingly stirring and bright.

February by Lisa Moore