The Education of Augie Merasty – Joseph Auguste (Augie) Merasty

 
I came across this book by chance on Goodreads.com. It’s a very short book (under 100 pages) so I got through this in one sitting. I found this book hard to rate – how do you rate a book based on someone’s real life experiences? But I will do my best to reiterate what this book was about.

What The Book Is About

The Education of Augie Merasty is a biography of Merasty’s experience in a residential school in the mid 1930s to the early 1940s. In an attempt to simplify a complex matter, residential schools were funded by the Government and led by the church during the settlement of colonies in Canada. The aim of these schools was to make land’s native inhabitants “more civilized”. This aggressive civilization led to the abuse (mental, physical, and sexual) of thousands of First Nations children.
 
This book begins with the contributor (David Carpenter) introducing the reader to Merasty. Carpenter describes him as a man who wanted his story to be told about the truth of what happened in those residential schools. Over the span of many years, Merasty sends Carpenter bits and pieces of a manuscript that Carpenter synthesized to this book.
 
The book goes through a series of chapters that are broken down by various events that took place during Merasty’s stay at the school. Merasty introduces readers to people that he was fond of at the school and then those that harmed him.

Again, the book is based on a series of events that, at most times, do not seem to bleed into the next one so it’s difficult for me to be more descriptive.

My Thoughts

The acts described in the book are unconscionable. It is so hard to believe that this treatment happened in Canada but alas, even the greatest countries have their dark history. I felt a sense of disbelief that people of the church could inflict such pain and deeply scar such young children but again, even the seemingly good have representatives with ill-intentions.

While I felt extremely saddened by Merasty’s experiences, I found the book a bit hard to follow at times and felt that it falls short of really building a complete picture of Merasty’s biography. Carpenter mentions in the introduction that he did his best to use the stories shared by Merasty that were the most impactful and tried to avoid repetition of his stories. I felt that doing this perhaps oversimplified the true atrocities of growing up in a residential school and didn’t allow the reader to capture a full view of his character. Playing devil’s advocate, it may also have been Carpenter’s lack of ability to communicate with Merasty to dig deeper and get more details that would have perhaps painted a slightly more cohesive picture.
 
This book has piqued my interest in the First Nations communities and I would like to read more books on the clash of the settlers and First Nations people. While I didn’t feel that the book did justice to developing Augie’s character, I would recommend this to anyone that wants a glimpse into the darker side of Canadian history.
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