Eddie Toma lives with his mother, Grace, and his little brother, Lewis, on the far edge of the Okanagan Indian Reserve in the British Columbia Southern Interior. Eddie’s mother is determined to have him learn the ways of the white world by sending him to school in the small community of Falkland, while she challenges the Indian Agent and writes futile letters to Ottawa to protest the sparse resources in their community. His father returns to the family after years away only to bring chaos and instability.
All the Quiet Places is the story of what can happen when every adult in a person’s life has been affected by colonialism; it tells of the acute separation from culture that can occur even at home in a loved familiar landscape. Its narrative power relies on the unguarded, unsentimental witness provided by Eddie.
“All the Quiet Places is a haunting coming-of-age story. The power of Isaac’s vision of young Eddie Toma growing up on an Okanagan reserve in the 1950s is the novel’s unflinching gaze, meticulous detailing and fierce attachment to family, land and love. Every line is so carefully curated and the dialogue was sharp.”Indigenous Voices Awards
“A debut like no other . . . beautifully written . . . [Isaac has] a tremendous attention to detail.”Carol Off, CBC’s As it Happens
“I feel that Brian Thomas Isaac has earned every single word, every single sentence, every single line. There’s so much hilarity in here. There’s so much wisdom … My goodness, what a journey this book takes you on . . . I think the best literature haunts you. Years later, I’m going to be thinking about this book.”Richard Van Camp, CBC’s Unreserved
“All the Quiet Places is primarily a tale about people. The forces that shape their lives are evoked with the same clarity as the snowberry bushes and beaver dams, the Christmas concerts and smoky pool halls. The result is a heartfelt and absorbing work of art.”Bardia Sinaee, Literary Review of Canada
“Beautifully crafted coming-of-age story . . . ”Shazlin Rahman, Hamilton Review of Books
“On its surface, All the Quiet Places seems like the coming-of-age story of a young boy learning how to live in a world where he is unwelcome. While it is that, its third-person perspective also enables the novel to illustrate how the systemic oppression of colonialism results in a cycle of poverty and trauma that erodes entire families and eventually entire communities. . . Equal parts enchanting and agonizing, All the Quiet Places is an exceptional debut that not only transports the reader but also transforms them.”Zeahaa Rehman, Quill and Quire
“All the Quiet Places is a must-read book of the year. . . . [It] demonstrates clearly the immediate and long term effects of colonialism . . . a masterpiece of writing.”Nick Nilsen, Senk’lip News
“Skilful . . . All the Quiet Places is superb story-making, nuanced in ways that only Isaac can provide. Isaac knows this story, knows how it has played out over generations now. I thank him for his honesty and his craft. This is a first novel, after all, and one that is so needed. It leaves a promise of more to come from a true story-teller.”Danial Neil, British Columbia Review
“First-time novelist Isaac has penned a powerfully emotional novel that captures the realities of life on a Reserve at mid-20th-century.”Jon G. Bradley, Historical Novels Review
“What a welcome debut. Young Eddie Toma’s passage through the truly ugly parts of this world is met, like an antidote, or perhaps a compensation, by his remarkable awareness of its beauty. This is a writer who understands youth, and how to tell a story.”Gil Adamson, winner of the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for Ridgerunner
“Let me say how deeply this novel affected me. So many times I just stopped and went back over a sentence or a scene and thought, this is so good. Nothing matters except the reader being there—especially with a story like this. How else do you teach anyone anything?
“The bird opening its beak and blowing a ring into the cold air, the bear prints over Eddie’s own prints, the smell of popcorn, the smell of the girl’s back and her hair, the glory of a bed of your own when you’re young, the perennial and sickening failure of the people in charge. The hollow log that is one of the quiet places.
“His writing of Eddie’s hospital time toward the end reminded me of a scene in Suttree. Isaac does awareness and being present so well in his fiction. You can’t teach that.”Gil Adamson, winner of the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for Ridgerunner
“On par with the brillance of James Welch’s Winter in The Blood and Ruby Slipperjack’s Little Voice, Brian Isaac has given us a startling read that’ll live wire your soul and haunt you for a good long while. Pure brilliance. Wow.”Richard Van Camp, bestselling author of The Lesser Blessed and Moccasin Square Gardens
“All the Quiet Places is a deftly crafted, evocative story about the trials of growing up Indigenous. Brian Thomas Isaac’s characters are complex, relatable, and overall, beautifully human.”Waubgeshig Rice, bestselling author of Moon of the Crusted Snow
“All the Quiet Places is the kind of novel that works its way into your soul. Essentially, it’s a tale of childhood, all the wonders and tragedies, that befall a young boy on an Okanagan Reserve in the middle of the last century. Familiar, yet unique, Eddie’s story will captivate the reader. The best compliment I could bestow on this book is. . . I wish it was one or two chapters longer. I wanted more.”Drew Hayden Taylor is from the Curve Lake Nation and author of many books, including Chasing Painted Horses
CBC’s As it Happens with Carol OffListen here
CBC’s Radio West with Sarah PentonListen here at minute 52:35
The Amazon Canada First Novel Award asks Brian five questionsListen here