Read The North: The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux


Party Wall: “A partition erected on a property boundary, partly on the land of one owner and partly on the land of another, to provide common support to the structures on both sides of the boundary.”

The premise of the novel follows just that. The Party Wall by French Canadian author Catherine Leroux carefully explores the barriers that unite us and divide us through four separate story lines with incredibly unique circumstances.

At first glance, the novel reads like an accumulation of short stories and leaves you constantly attempting to draw connections, pushing you to keep reading and later discover how the characters intertwine.

The novel shifts between a mother who comes to terms with her son’s illness and discovers she isn’t his biological mother; a political couple who learn they’re fraternal twins separated at birth; a young girl who saves her sister from a speeding train who loses her legs; and a sister and brother who come together in search of their father as their mother is on her death bed.

“The world is an unjust place where the good go bad from never being rewarded, where the truly wicked are very rarely punished and where most folk zigzag between the two extremes, neither saints nor demons, tacking between heartache and joy, their fingers crossed, knocking on wood. Every person split in two, each with a fault around which good and evil spin.”

Reading this novel you’d never imagine it was a translation. The rhetoric used beautifully explores the intricacy in sibling relationships and our life events that separate us and bring us closer together. Once discovering the stories were those based on real life events with added layers of fiction, I gained a new appreciation for Leroux’s storytelling.

The Party Wall is a window into the inexplicable bond siblings share and a relationship that can withstand almost anything. The novel is a refreshing reminder of what it means to be human, the ways in which our relationships define our individuality and that even in our differences we’re all still similar.

“I guess we’ll never really understand where we come from.”

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