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this is a mixture of my lazy academic reviews and personal moments as a mama going through academia, and it is all my own opinion, and has absolutely no affiliation with anybody else

writings & ramblings

The Lesser Blessed – Richard Van Camp

Plot Outline:The Lesser Blessed tracks the exploits of Larry Sole, a Dogrib teenager living in the small Northern town of Fort Simmer. After losing much of his memory in a violent accident, what he loves more than anything is reading, hearing and collecting stories. With no interest in booze or sports, he floats on the edges of high school life, sustained by his love of Iron Maiden and a hopeless passion for school hottie Juliet Hope. When good-looking, trouble-seeking Johnny Beck moves into town, he shakes up Larry’s dreamy existence and leads him into a life of sex, drugs and violence, bringing him face to face with memories that he’s done his best to lose.”

Main Characters:

  • Larry Sole, Dogrib teenager. In love with Juliet, as much as he thinks it’s love, and tentative new friend of new kid, Johnny
  • Johnny Beck, Métis, new kid, older brother with a younger brother who has to pay into a swear jar. His mom is not around much, but is also a student where Larry’s mom is a student
  • Juliet Hope, non-indigenous. Local beauty/local girl who sleeps around. Hooks up with Johnny. Gets pregnant. Leaves town.
  • Darcy McMannus, non-Indigenous, bully. Has a weird relationship with Larry because he once beat him up and Larry didn’t report the beatdown, so he feels like he owes Larry one
  • Jazz the Jackel: non-indigenous, I think, also a bully, first big fight that Larry gets into

Themes + Conflicts:

  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Abuse (sexual/mental/emotional/physical): Larry is raped by his father, and sets a fire. The constant physical fighting between the boys for power.
  • Alcoholism
  • Sexuality: Juliet has a reputation as easy, Larry is obsessed with doggy-style, grade 8 girls notice big dicks, etc. Sexuality and the awkward and harsh exploration and dominance of it is permeated throughout the novel. It doesn’t feel innocent or sweet but rather something to use to gain power, to push your own power. Until you get knocked, that is. – but then, Juliet’s last scene with Larry, she uses it a a healing, a remembrance of what sex could be like with a ‘kind’ boy, you could say
  • Friendship: The friendship between alpha Johnny and Larry is born out of necessity an humour – Larry cracks the jokes and Johnny defends him, and they provide entertainment and protection for each other.


  • “I remember. It is the summer of my crucification. I try so hard to be pure; I take two baths a day” (1)
  • “Juliet Hope was white and pure” (27)
  • “I think in another life I was a great Dogrib hunter who has Juliet in my sights. She was a white caribou, pure. I believe I let her go out of respect and awe” (29)
  • “”What’s it like?” I asked. My mouth betrayed me. I wanted to take it back and act like I knew” (43)
  • “I remembered my dad taking me in the shed to teach me how to play the drum. I got a chill in the expanding second and scrambled to divert the attention away from me” (68)
  • “The tear duct my father had destroyed would never work again, so even though she made the sounds of crying, nothing came” (82)

buy the book: the lesser blessed 

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