Friday Review – Life Sucks by Donna Sutherland


Throughout the ages, mothers and daughters usually hit a period of disagreement during the girl’s teen years. I remember heated arguments with my mother and also with my teenaged daughter. Fortunately, none of them escalated to the point of physical violence. The period passed and, upon becoming a woman, we became friends again. I think that was mainly because we kept the lines of communication open, unlike the characters in Donna Sutherland’s book.

In the story, Life Sucks, a mother (Emma) and her daughter (Lindsay) cannot seem to agree on anything. Lindsay seems bent on punishing her mom, believing she is the source of all her troubles, like her Dad leaving, trouble at school, and her friends deserting her. Emma is hurt and confused by her daughter’s anger, but when push comes to shove, literally, Emma knows they will need outside help to heal their relationship. That help comes, not from the sterile environment of a psychologist’s office, but the friend of Mary, a new worker in Emma’s office. Through Mary, Emma meets Martha, a local medicine woman who assists them in discovering the source of their deep-seated self-loathing and anger. Together, Mother and Daughter learn the Seven Sacred Teachings and begin their journey along the Red Road.

I’m sure that every mother or daughter who reads Life Sucks will appreciate the anguish in this broken family and will learn some valuable lessons about how to treat other people and how to heal themselves, just like Emma and Lindsay did. The story provides insight into the Native teachings that I think every person can take to heart. They are simple, common sense tools to help a body and mind work in harmony to become the best person one can be. 

Book Blurb:

Lindsay McKay is a 14-year-old girl on the cusp of womanhood struggling to understand life and her place in it. Her struggle with identity – what she sees on the outside is not in sync with the spirit within. She journeys with her mother, Emma, through conflict and challenge to truth and love. Together they find answers to their questions through the grace and wisdom of Martha, a powerful Cree Medicine Woman who introduces them to the Seven Sacred Teachings of the ancient Cree.

About the Author:

Donna Gail Sutherland was born in Selkirk, Manitoba to an Irish-English-Danish mother and a Scottish-Cree father. She is the author of three historical works – Peguis: A Noble Friend, Nahoway: A Distant Voice, and Concealment of Childbirth, and a soon-to-be released children’s picture book. Little Chip. She lives north of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the lovely woods of Clandeboye, a charming village with an Irish name.

To learn more about Donna and her books, click on the book cover above. It will link you to her website.

I was fortunate enough to meet Donna when she invited me to speak at the Public Library in Selkirk, a few weeks ago. I read from Withershins and talked about the historical setting of my books. Afterwards, Donna and I had a lovely chat over coffee. She is a truly remarkable woman, who is very connected to her ancestors and has a lot to teach us. Learning about our past is one way of learning the truth about ourselves. Knowing the truth about ourselves gives us strength and helps us move forward with our lives. It also helps in our relationships with others, treating them with respect and compassion.