Through Different Eyes

Through Different Eyes



About the book

Everyone knows everyone's business in the small fishing community of Kitsum. So when young Brenda Joe fears she might be pregnant, she also worries that rumours will spread quickly. Things look up when Brenda's favourite aunt, Monica returns to Kitsum for Christmas, although she is preoccupied with her own relationship problems. It's become clear to her that the white man she's been living with in Vancouver sees her as his "Indian Princess," his own exotic arm candy, and she's had enough. When she learns about Brenda's secret relationship with a local man, Monica is appalled and goes to set him straight. But is there more to this attractive loner with the hard-partying relations than meets the eye? Come spring, amid their secrets and betrayals, each family member will be tempted down to the water to collect herring eggs from artfully placed hemlock branches. The question is, will they be able to face one another?

About the author

Charleson, Karen

Through Different Eyes is Karen Charleson’s first novel, although she has published three science textbooks with McGraw-Hill Ryerson and has had numerous articles and essays appear in such diverse publications as Canadian Geographic, the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and Canadian Literature. Karen holds an MA in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University. She is a member through marriage of the House of Kinquashtakumtlth and the Hesquiaht First Nation on the mid-west coast of Vancouver Island. She is a mother of six, as well as a grandmother. Along with her husband, Karen operates Hooksum Outdoor School near Tofino, British Columbia, which is located in the traditional Hesquiaht territories that they call home.


Monica’s visits were usually a highlight for Brenda. They had grown up so close together, and her aunt was always like an older sister. Even after Monica had gone off to university in Vancouver, every time she came home on holidays and for the summers, she was back in her “own” bed in the small upstairs room that they had shared for ages. The nighttime stories would flow back and forth. If there was anyone she could talk to about Michael, it was Monica. She waited for the chance, for a moment when Monica was not caught up in making Ruby feel better. It never came. The weekend was too short. Brenda would have to wait for the Christmas holidays.

Her mother was better after her sister left — still crankier and more irritable than usual, but better. Mostly, Brenda thought, she just looked tired and worn out. Brenda held onto her suspicions. She had already missed two periods. Most mornings, it took every ounce of her energy to drag herself out of bed for school. Some days, she just did not have the gumption. She would snap harshly at her mother instead; she would say that she was sick until her mother finally gave up trying to get her up and left her alone. Falling back asleep, she sometimes half-believed herself. Maybe she really was sick. Lots of kids in Port Hope had the flu; that could be what was upsetting her stomach over the past weeks.

School became a nightmare. Either she could not concentrate in her classes because she felt too nauseous, or she was so sleepy that she could barely keep her eyes open. Her lunchtime friends, Tracy and Beth, had vanished. Tracy had quite literally disappeared from Port Hope. Beth told her, the one time she actually spoke to her at the beginning of the school year, that Tracy’s parents had split up and that Tracy had moved with her mom to Campbell River. For her part, Beth was now going out with some young logger. Brenda noticed that she now hung around with the partiers. Looking at her, Brenda guessed that was where Beth had wanted to be all along. Brenda did not bother to go to K & M’s Convenience anymore; she just sat with Sarah and waited for the school day to end.

At the beginning of the school year, she had made up her mind never to see Michael again. She had stuck to that resolve for over a month. As the days had gone by, she had actually started to feel better about her decision. She thought of the man less and less. Everything seemed less exciting, but she had almost accepted that too. She would get through her remaining high school years and move away for college or university. Then she would put this chapter in her life far behind her.

The growing suspicion that she was pregnant changed everything. Instead of planning for future adventures, Brenda found herself sinking into confusion and worry about an outcome she could not even imagine. The only lifeline she had was fantasy.

There had to be a romantic scenario. Michael would recognize how much she meant to him, and what a wonderful life they could have together. He would hold her in his arms and profess his love. Then he would explain why he had been afraid to show his feelings earlier. Maybe he had been afraid that she did not feel the same way. Except there was nothing like that at all. As much as she tried to deny it, Brenda strongly suspected that Michael was avoiding her. When she had finally gathered the confidence to walk by the construction site, he had moved to a part of a house that she could not see from the road. The second and last time, he had simply pretended that he did not see her.


Karen Charleson, author of Through Different Eyes, is featured on the cover of BC BookWorld's Summer Issue

Set on Northern Vancouver Island, Through Different Eyes is a moving and memorable novel that is fuelled by compassion and… >>

BC BookWorld Summer Issue

Through Different Eyes by Karen Charleson, is front and centre in the most recent issue of BC Book Look.
Recently featured on the cover of B.C. BookWorldThrough Different Eyes is the sort of novel that will likely be overlooked in… >>

— Paul Headrick BC Book Look

Love triangles, teenage pregnancy, (not so) secret affairs, a baby abandoned on doorsteps — with all this drama and more plot twists, you would think I was talking about a telenovela and not Karen Charleson’s first novel.


— Daniela Barrera Broken Pencil

After publishing three science textbooks, a series of articles, opinion pieces for newspapers and scholarly journals, Karen Charleson has made the giant leap to published novelist.

Set in the fictional West Coastvillage of Kitsum, the story of 16-year-old Brenda Joe… >>

— Shane Morrow Ha-Shilth-Sa

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