Tomboy Survival Guide

Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote

Well, the first book on my Evergreen reading list was Ivan Coyote’s Tomboy Survival Guide. This memoir is written as a series of vignettes from Coyote’s past. I honestly think this is a strong contender for my favourite book of the year. Coyote is referred to as a storyteller and man-oh-man does that description ever fit. They have this conversational tone to their writing that makes me feel like I could just drift away into whatever it is they’re talking about. Coyote and I have had vastly different life experiences and yet I found their life stories very relatable, they have this way of getting right down to the core feelings of a given situation.

What I especially loved about this book was Coyote’s family. So often when you read memoirs the author has a horrible relationship with their family and has all this baggage to unpack. A lot of memoirs read like they were actually written because the author needed to get something out of their system (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) – Tomboy Survival Guide is not one of those. Obviously Coyote’s family has their own struggles and issues, as do all families, but the overall impression I get it of a wonderfully loving and supportive group of people.

Sprinkled throughout the book are these little boxed off asides that I quite enjoyed, especially this one. Out of the mouths of babes, eh?

Excerpt from Ivan Coyote's Tomboy Survival Guide

There are also lots of illustrations  throughout the text, the kind of diagrams of knots and mechanical bits and bobs and the like that I always associate with old timey manuals or survival guides. There were even a few knitting ones! I enjoyed this added layer to the text but I’m not sure if they were actually significant to the stories they were placed with. That is to say, I definitely think they added to the book overall, but if there was any reason that Diagram A was placed alongside Story 3 rather than Story 7 I wasn’t able to figure it out.

Illustration from Ivan Coyote's Tomboy Survival Guide

Also, it’s not the most relevant thing, but based off of a few lines here and there throughout the book I get the impression that Coyote is a fellow fan of CBC Radio, always nice to come across another kindred spirit! And according to their Instagram profile they  are a ‘lover of cross-stitching’ – I could go on and on about how awesome they are but I’ll stop gushing now. You can learn more about them on their website. Needless to say I will be checking out more of their books!

I hate to doom it from the start, but my next Evergreen book has a tough act to follow.

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