1949 Leacock Medal Winner
“Children are thoughtless things”
Truthfully Yours is an opportunity to reflect on what truth in writing and storytelling really means, why it is important, and what are its challenges.
Most writers recognize the need for a certain kind of truth or authenticity in their works even when they take the form of fantasy. A story has to be coherent with its premise even if the premise is implausible, and when someone purports to be truthfully recounting events as they experienced them, we have to believe that they think their version is the truth in order to accept the story whether it is imperfect or incomplete. It is, of course, easier to achieve this effect when one is genuine and openly honest.
Following unfettered imagination may feel liberating, but there is another kind of freedom of expression that comes in truth telling without restriction. From the facts of her life and the temperament of her story, it seems that Angéline Hango had been, just as she asserts, freed from a need to hide the truth and related restraints.
Telling the truth about difficult times does not naturally lead to a humorous story. But Hango does so, in part, by downplaying and looking away from the seriousness and the pain. In doing this, she produces a book that does qualify as both poignant and warmly humorous. In order to achieve this effect in a genuine way after years of angst, she must have experienced an epiphany that mollified her memories and allowed her to look back with the perspective and bemusement that came through in her words. She must have absorbed a new level of forgiveness.
At the conclusion of her story, she suggests that the turning point came with her marriage and a coincident personal pledge to abandon fibbing. But there are hints of another reason in those pages. Her book makes several references to her own son about the same age as Hango was when she and her sister entered the Convent residential school. She also speaks of the sacrifices of parenting and the futile hope that children will be grateful.
“Children are thoughtless things,” Hango tells her readers in the midst of her own story and talking about herself. “That is why it is wrong for a mother (or a father as far as that goes) to deny herself too much for a child, it is not appreciated, not even noticed.”
She thus admits that at this point in her life, the point of writing the book, she has come to appreciate the education she received from the parental effort and caring that she once found embarrassing.
Perhaps, to write both honestly and humorously about difficult events, it is necessary to be both skilled and forgiving.
Review of Truthfully Yours
Review of Truthfully Yours