My third Canada Reads book was Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, and what a book! It focuses on marathoner Keita Ali as he’s forced to flee his homeland and go into hiding in a wealthy neighbouring nation. Several characters cross paths with Ali along the way and it is fascinating to dip in and out of their points of view as they all deal with their own personal struggles. It touches on everything from immigration issues, government corruption, racism, and class discrimination, just to name a few.
As I mentioned, Ali is a marathoner and a lot of the book is spent detailing all the nuances of his runs. I thought I would end up glossing over endless descriptions of burning muscles and thirst and pushing through the pain, but Hill managed to make these sections interesting. I’ve read some of Hill’s previous books and I am in total awe of his talent. He can write about pretty much anything and reading his work never feels like a chore.
Actually, I was surprised by how readable this book was overall. It deals with such heavy subject matter so I was expecting it to be one of those books I had to psych myself to read. But not only was this a book that made me think, I actually enjoyed reading it. I will say that everything wrapped up just a little too neatly in the end, but hey, it’s fiction. Of the three books I’ve read so far this is by far my favourite – I can definitely see this one winning.