The Illegal

I recently registered for A Night with Lawrence Hill at the Calgary Public Library, and all of a sudden The Illegal wins the Canada Reads crown, and blows up my Twitter. Needless to say, I dropped what I was reading, ran to Indigo, and picked it up. 

An Honest Review: 

Okay, so I blew through this book in 3 days. It’s an easy read with a HUGE message. Growing up Canadian, with blonde hair and blue eyes, it can be easy to find yourself living in a bubble of ignorance – hence why I read; it helps me gain exposure to others’ perspectives. I can’t pretend to know how refugees, or others who struggle with inequality feel, because I don’t. What I can do, is read books like The Illegal which open my eyes to every day struggles minorities are faced with, and challenge me to be more understanding and kind to others. 

In this story you follow protagonist Keita Ali, and his story pulls you completely in. I started it over the Easter weekend and I won’t lie, it was hard to divert my attention away from this book. I am a fan of Lawrence Hill, having read The Book of Negroes many moons ago, and the fact that he was able to evolve his writing style to tell story just goes to show how talented he is. He also ensured to put a little Canadian flavor in the book referencing a Tim’s date (for those non-Canadians reading, Tim’s is short for Tim Horton’s, a huge coffee chain and Canadian breakfast staple). Thank you Lawrence Hill for another outstanding adventure. 

What I Learned: 

Be grateful, every day, for the life I live and the life I can provide my daughter. I might be living pay cheque to pay cheque making ramen noodles for dinner, but I have a loving family, a smart, beautiful daughter, a roof over our heads, and a job to pay the bills. My life is pretty great, soI need to ensure I’m thankful everyday, and show kindness and understanding to others who might not be as lucky as I. 

Favorite Quote: 

“To identify a human being as illegal is to diminish his or her humanity”

Bucket List: 

  • Run a Marathon Half-Marathon (let’s be realistic here…)

Related Reads: 

Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire – Romeo D’Allaire’s account of the Rwandan genocide is the non-fiction comparable to the images described in The Illegal. It’s crazy to think that these things are happening right now, and that these people are suffering so much. Shake Hands with the Devil shocked me and opened my eyes in a big way, and brings even more reality to the life of Keita Ali. 

Book Credit:

Hill, Lawrence (2015). The Illegal. Ontario: HarperCollins


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