The Book That Changed Your Life: Carys Cragg

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      The Word Vancouver festival is preparing its 2018 edition with another genre-hopping and inclusive roster of authors, set to appear at venues around the city from September 24 to 30.

      The Straight has asked a group of these writers to describe their most memorable and momentous reading experiences. Which books lit up their imaginations? Which ones struck a chord at a crucial time?

      Here’s what Vancouver’s Carys Cragg told us. She’s the author of the memoir Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father. She’ll be reading from her work at 2:30 p.m. on September 30, in the Alma VanDusen Room at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      In middle school, a girl from class recommended a book, Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid. She too was struggling with a sudden traumatic loss, so I knew I could trust her opinion. Beyond opinion, I somehow knew she was also passing along a survival tool. In Runaway, Evelyn Lau invites us into her innermost reflections and daily accounting of surviving the effects of a restrictive family and living on the streets of Vancouver after she leaves home.

      While my love of reading emerged after I finished school, Runaway planted the seed for my love of memoir. Memoir is of course about its author, a slice of time in their life that they offer to the world. At the same time, memoir becomes about its reader, the meaning they attach to the story, and how they bring it forward.

      Like Lau, I too found myself writing, taking notebooks wherever I went. While our daily realities differed, Lau taught me that adolescent girls’ lives—our concerns, observations, and dreams—were worthy of being recorded. Here, I thought, in these notebooks, we make space for our voices, in a world that, for the most part, wishes us to be silent.