Cover Image: Tilly and the Crazy Eights

Tilly and the Crazy Eights

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Member Reviews

This is a delightful and heartwarming story of eight elders: Mable, Sarah, Annie, Rose and her husband Poncho, Lucy and her best friend Bea, and Chuck, Bea’s ex husband all decide to take a road trip from BC to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. Tilly becomes one of the drivers making the group Tilly and The Crazy Eights

This road trip becomes special and different for everyone.  It is a story of friendships, love, forgiveness and different indigenous traditions.  The writing is simple, which makes it accessible to people of all ages.  It’s also playful and fun while including serious topics like residential school trauma and missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Michelle Thrush who narrated the audio of this novel, really helps it come alive with different voices.  It seems as though she had fun and made some of the lines even funnier than if I were reading it myself.  I could imagine this being a fun little feel good film.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bespeak Audio for the audio edition.
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Cozy sort of book that I think a lot of people are gravitating to right now for comfort and accessible, easy-to-read writing. This still covers some serious topics like terminal illness, aging, and residential school trauma, but the tone is very light, playful, funny, and charming. I loved that there I wish that there had been less characters because they all got mixed up in my head. There needed to be a few central elders only, not Tilly plus eight elders plus all their relationships. It made it hard to get to know any one of them very well; they blended together.  The plotting is pretty predictable, and the writing is easy to digest but nothing special or lyrical. Lots of cute, quiet romance and road trip adventures. Dreams, healing, dancing, friendship. And some emotional moments too, it was really sweet. It's the perfect beach read for a vacation or the best cozy "read in one sitting" book on a cold winter night. 

“If only Duncan Campbell Scott could see me now.”

<b>content warnings for</b>: references to residential schools, racial slurs/anti-Indigenous racist language, brief description of child sexual abuse, discussion of cancer/dying, brief MMIW and Highway of Tears discussion.
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Tilly and the Crazy Eights is a sweetly sentimental and kindly written road-trip/bucket list novel by Monique Gray Smith. Released in 2020 by Second Story Press, it's 230 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately; it makes it so easy to find information with the search function. 

Although this is a very simply written book and many of the plot turns were foreshadowed heavily, I was surprised by how much heart and honesty it had and how appealing the characters were. Although the writing is simple enough to be a YA novel, the subject matter isn't, there's a lot of distressing background in the narrative including substance abuse, loss of a child, trauma from the residential schools most of the elders were forced to endure, illness, racism, and death. There's also a lot of hope and positive role models, mutual affection and support, learning and respecting traditional culture, and a metric ton of personal growth. 

The story is told from several points of view. The voices weren't all very distinct to me, and I did have to go back to double-check which character was which sometimes. The chapters are clearly marked with whichever character's voice is being written. This was especially problematic for me with the audiobook version, since the voices for the female characters weren't differentiated at all to my ear. The audiobook has a run time of 9 hours and 24 minutes and is read by Michelle Thrush.

The language is clean, and there's no on-page sexual content. There is also a positively portrayed LGBTQ+ character who is loyal, likeable, honest, and kind. There are a number of positive portrayals of indigenous people and culture in the book (it's the central theme) alongside some honest hard truths about colonizer culture and the detrimental impact on indigenous culture.

This would likely make a good selection for public library, book clubs, or reading groups. Uplifting and wholesome, if a bit choppy along the way. 

Three and a half stars for book, three stars for the audiobook version.  

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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What a special book about learning from those who came before you. This is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind tale that touches on a multitude of tough topics in a gentle way. I liked the audiobook version of this book as it added something special and each character had their own vibe. Thank you to NetGalley and Bespeak Audio Editions for a copy of this book for an honest review.
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A heartwarming book about old friends on a road trip living their bucket list ideals. It may not sound like a unique concept but their being elders/Native Canadians added something I've not read much about (particularly as a reader in the UK) and felt particularly important given recent news stories about the residential schools in Canada, which feature in the book. Although the story and characters are very different, in some ways it reminded me of Fried Green Tomatoes - a book that still deals with difficult themes, yet still somehow feels like a warm hug.

However, I wasn't the biggest fan of the narration (it sometimes felt a bit OTT and almost like it was aimed at children, which I didn't feel reflected the text), so would probably recommend picking up a written copy of the audio.
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A story of 8 people making their bucket list come true, their driver Tilly has been railroaded onto the trip to look after them. Leaving family behind each person discovers their own truth and through the shared experience grow closer together as friends. Starting in British Columbia and ending in New Mexico it’s a long journey however it’s a journey of great stories and connection.  The narration tried hard to make the characters individual but it was not great, either just read the book or perfect the accents, the written word would have been better in my opinion. A lovely heart warming story. Thank you #NetGalley for the audiobook to review.
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A light hearted overall story about tribal elders that fulfill  a bucket list wish with many deep topics touched on throughout including but not limited to the following: boarding schools; generational differences; divorce; infidelity; alcoholism; cancer.

I loved this book and the dialogue. The younger character Tilly learns so much from her Elders, her family.
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Loved this story! They all learn about themselves in ways they never thought they would.  I really appreciate that they tackle mental illness in the Native community and there is no shame asking or getting help.  This would make a great movie - had a Smoke Signals movie vibe.
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This was entertaining and heartbreaking, heart warning and educational. A really great story about realising your dreams, community and belonging.
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Elders, pow-wow, Indigenous-people, road-trip, Gathering-of-Nations, friendship, healing, First Nations, nurture, family, relationship-issues, relationships, cultural-heritage, cultural-exploration, supernatural, situational-humor, verbal-humor*****
Tilly is in a rut, so when the elder *Aunties* determine to go to the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow from their homes in Vancouver to New Mexico because one of them is on a timeline, she finds herself going along as driver (among other things). Sarah is the one on a cancer timeline, and the trip is viewed to be of such importance that her grands hold a garage sale with some of their favorite things to raise *pocket money* for her. She is also *Big Sister* to Annie who has a lot of past horrors in her life. Most of them have anger and horrible memories of the time when as children, they were drastically removed from all they knew, forced to remain in a foreign environment (the residential school) and not allowed to speak to or of their own people while being told they were worthless and dirty. And abused and violated by people who were supposedly without stain so add in PTSD to most of them. This trip is funny, sad, redeeming, and a healing venture for each and every one of them. They even learned to recover the memories and rituals that are so very important. Very moving.
For the most part, Michelle Thrush is an excellent narrator, but... Her interpretation of Lucy sounds too frail for only 64 and healthy (I am 10 years older).
I requested and received a free temporary e-book copy from Bespeak Audio Editions via NetGalley. Thank you!
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