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Reproduction by Ian Williams
Reproduction by Ian Williams  

Set over three decades, from the early eighties through the 2000s, mainly in the socio-economically mixed and culturally diverse Toronto neighbourhood of Brampton, Reproduction tells the story of Felicia, a nineteen-year-old student from a West Indian family and Edgar, the lazy-minded and impetuous heir of a wealthy German family. The two meet by chance when their dying mothers are assigned the same hospital room. After the death of Felicia's mother, and the recovery of Edgar's, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as caregiver to Edgar's mother, only to eventually become Edgar's lover. They are an odd couple indeed, but their affair, ripe with miscommunications, misunderstandings and reprisals for perceived and real offenses, results in a pregnancy.

The story leaps forward more than a decade and Felicia's son, Armistice, "Army" for short, is a teenager fixated on a variety of get-rich-quick schemes that are as comic as they are indicative of the immigrant's fear of falling through the cracks. Army and Felicia rent a home in a duplex from Olivier, a divorcee with two kids around Army's age. Here the book's second happenstance "family" is introduced. Edgar re-enters their lives at a typically (for him) inopportune moment, and provides the catalyst for the book's conclusion, which sees Felicia and Edgar reunited, in a sense, in illness, neatly closing the story's arc.

Reproduction is a crooked love story, one in which love takes strange, winding paths and evolves within a context shaped not by solitude but by community and the fleeting interactions with people that leave their marks on us forever.

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