2012 Review: Hope Faith & Empathy

Hope Faith & Empathy book cover



Book Review

Hope Faith & Empathy
Written By Monique Gray Smith
Published By Printorium Bookworks and Little Drum Consulting
139 Pages

“Hope, Faith & Empathy” is the story of Tilly, a young Indigenous woman growing up in Canada and the many ups and down she learns to navigate in the journey we all call life. The story is also about the people who have helped shape Tilly, her survival and her resilient spirit.

In the prologue to the story, author Monique Gray Smith writes “Hope, Faith & Empathy” will take you on a journey, a journey that is loosely based on my life’s story as an Indigenous woman, of individuals who showed up at a pivotal time in my life to guide and teach me and of characters who came to me as I wrote.”

The journey starts with an older Tilly receiving news at work from her doctor that she has a tumor in her lung and must go for surgery. The fears and anxiety that Tilly experiences with this news immediately pulls the reader into the main character’s life, and has them wanting to learn more about Tilly and how she got the strength she carries within her.

Using the surgery as a backdrop to tell Tilly’s story, the reader is then taken on a “healing journey—not just a physical journey, but also a spiritual journey,” as Tilly revisits some of the pivotal moments in her life and remembers the people who have helped shape her experiences and the woman she has become.

Tilly’s journey is one that a lot of Indigenous people can empathize with—turning to alcohol to mask an inner pain that can’t often be spoken of, experiencing loss and coming to terms with it, and awakening to a cultural identity that family may have inadvertently kept from you.

It is intriguing to read about the various people that have helped shape Tilly, especially when she speaks about her Grandma Tilly, her Auntie Pauline, Mrs. Murphy, her elementary school teacher who took the time out to tell Tilly that she mattered, and later on in life, her drug and alcohol therapy counsellor Bea. Each of these individuals are strong in their own unique ways and the lessons they teach Tilly are not only inspiring but life changing, and something that Tilly takes away with her in her healing.

The story within “Hope, Faith & Empathy” gives a unique perspective of the history of the first peoples in Canada, and includes the Sixties Scoop, Indigenous adoption, Indian Day Schools, Residential Schools, and tuberculosis hospitals.

It shares stories of homecomings rooted in courage and resiliency, and interwoven throughout the book are thought-provoking teachings, humour and wisdom.

Author Monique Gray Smith writes and gives a unique twist to the heavy issues that Indigenous people have unfortunately had to face.

To help Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers understand the book further, there is a glossary of the various terms used throughout the book such as “internalized racism, band, ancestors etc.” A diagram of the Umbrella of First Nations Resiliency that Gray Smith has used in talks is also included, as is a question section for your book club and educational groups.