Amnesty International announced The Dime Box as its 2021 March/April Book Club novel to coincide with International Women’s Day. As a new Canadian author, I am deeply humbled by this remarkable and unexpected honour.
Set in Ontario, The Dime Box is the story of a young woman, Greta Giffen, who is accused of murdering her father. The novel embodies the theme of domestic violence, yet also includes themes of justice, the search for identity, adoption, and how we, as society, define family.
Canadian author Lawrence Hill describes The Dime Box as “a quintessential book club novel, with an unforgettable protagonist, and where every character faces moral dilemmas and is forced to make difficult choices.”
Though purely a work of the imagination, The Dime Box is inspired by the many students I had the privileged of coming to know throughout my career in public education. As we worked and learned together, I was struck by the power and generosity of their voices, lives and life stories. I strongly believe children and youth are beacons of light for the rest of us, and that our future is in great hands.
Like the protagonist in The Dime Box, I too am adopted and writing the novel stirred many emotions. I remember as a child often being told on outings or at parties with my parents ‘you look like a chip off the old block.’ At the time, I laughed along. Later, I wondered what it meant. How was that even possible? I stood in front of my bedroom mirror at home wondering who the person was looking back at me. Why did I look the way I did? Who did I look like? Did I look more like my biological mother or father? Like every child who grows up, I struggled with my sense of identity. Back in the 1970s, there were no books with characters who were adopted to take out from the library or to read at school. Who was I and where did I belong? Was water thicker than blood, or was blood thicker than water, and how does society look at, or define family. When the confusion, grief and loss inherent in being adopted occasionally surfaced, they added an additional dynamic to wrestle with as I came to know myself.
One of the reasons I wrote The Dime Box was to spur conversation about girls’ and women’s issues with the hopes that together, we can help to create a more inclusive world. While it took five years to write the novel, gender inequality has become an even more important issue today. The current COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable effect on women. From security and the economy, to health and social protection, women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the crisis. This is having a regressive effect on gender equality. Increased intimate partner violence and loss of jobs are of particular concern, widening existing gender gaps around the world. As a global community, we must take action to protect the safety of women and girls, to improve their social and economic outcomes and to put in place interventions to address the broader societal aspects of gender inequality.
I hope you enjoy The Dime Box and Greta’s story of resilience, heartache and triumph.
All the best and take good care,
A pandemic is not an excuse to violate women’s rights!
Take action in support of women’s rights on International Women’s Day and beyond! Read our Amnesty International’s new guide for activists seeking to deepen their activism to help end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people surrounding International Women’s Day this year found here.
The discussion guide for The Dime Box, features a personal reflection essay by author Lawrence Hill, as well as discussion guide questions to follow along with your Book Club group. Pick up your copy today at: www.amnestybookclub.ca or download it directly here.