In this slender novel, author Beverley Hopwood imagines life in Nunavat, Canada after Frobisher Bay remains ice-locked for the summer. While the frozen landscape provides the setting and part of the plot for this tale, there is also another, more sinister manmade conflict at hand and Hopwood hooks the reader nicely with the opening line: “There are some who will never forgive Pete Qaqqasiq for his part in my husband’s death,” begins narrator Rosa Mama Aariak. “I will, but not yet, because I am still so raw with hurt.”
And so begins the story of climate crisis, an alleged murder and the ages-old conflict between the older generation and the young. Set in an Arctic village that is home to the native Inuit people, the story is rich in native culture, including the old ways known to the elderly Rosa Mama. When the ice breakers cannot free the waters around them and supplies dwindle, it is she who teaches the young how to rely on what is at hand for their needs – including moss when no diapers are available.
The Summer of Ice is an interesting tale written by an author who clearly knows the culture and landscape. With her longevity and wisdom, Rosa Mama makes a trustworthy and informed narrator. The dialogue, however, at times feels stilted and occasionally seems designed purely to convey information to the reader rather than further the plot. This is not a fatal flaw, but some revision to make it more natural sounding and less jarring would improve the reading experience.
All in all, though, this is a quick, generally pleasurable story that will especially appeal to individuals interested in native Canadian culture.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.