The books I choose tend to be more happenstance than ordered reading or grabbing the latest sensation. Nevertheless, they usually have a justice theme.
One recent book I have read is Joan Barfoot’s CRITICAL INJURIES. Isla had a difficult time in her first marriage and at last has found Lyle. Except for perhaps normal anxieties about her adolescent children, Isla is finding happiness. Then a young boy and his friend decide to rob the local ice cream store. A stray bullet strikes Isla in the neck and she becomes paralysed from the neck down. Rob is nabbed, taken to trial, convicted for armed robbery and sent to prison for eighteen months. He knows he’s guilty and is as shocked at everyone else that the gun went off and actually hit something — worse, somebody. The story takes us through the experiences of these two people whose lives might never have connected, except for chance, and then Isla’s daughter Alix who takes an interest in Rob. After Isla has surgery and regains the use of her upper, if not lower, body, she and Lyle plan a party to celebrate her homecoming from the hospital. Then Alix brings Rob to the party. Rob, of course, is the last person anyone there, and particularly Isla, wants to see. But now she is forced to, and she has to admit she is curious. The rest of the book turns on how Rob and Isla begin to sort things out between themselves toward, if not total reconciliation, then acceptance of what is.
Joan Barfoot is a well-known, award-winning Canadian novelist. Critical Injuries is her ninth. I could identify with both her main characters and the strangeness of Alix, the daughter, which could account for bringing Isla and Rob together. Isla herself shows a lot of anger, but still she acquiesces almost too easily when Alix wants to bring Rob to the party. I like the idea Joan was working on, a kind of personal-level restorative justice theme, but it was a light application in that Rob was no hardened criminal. So I’m not sure this is really a story about restorative justice. Still, the principles are there. The story and characters are engaging and the plot unfolds with interesting twists and turns. Even knowing the ending, it is well worth reading. (From justlit.ca)