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Sunday 24 January 2016

250 Hours

Jess and Sara Jean couldn’t be more different. He’s a loner with a criminal record; a Metis raised on the Reserve; the son of a residential school survivor. His time, when not spent with his mother and grandmother, is spent lighting fires to help him deal with the feelings he has over his father’s abandonment. She’s from nearby Edelburg, a small, conservative town. Abandoned by her mother, Sara Jean cares for her obese grandmother and writes to escape. She has been accepted to the University of Manitoba, but her obligation to her grandmother leaves her wondering what her future will hold: a life in Edelburg with her boyfriend and grandmother, or an adventure in a big city where she can escape her past and pursue her passion for writing.
When Jess is found guilty of arson after lighting an abandoned building on fire, he’s ordered to complete 250 hours of community service. His first assignment? Cleaning out Sara Jean’s neglected garage. Sorting through boxes left by her grandfather, they discover that the secrets keeping their communities apart are the very things that may well bring them together.

Reviews for '250 Hours'

"Nelson deftly touches upon issues relevant to Canadian society, such as the lingering damage done by the residential school system, the casual racism experienced by First Nations and Métis on a daily basis, substance abuse, and relationship dynamics."                                                                                              -Quill and Quire
"250 Hours is a novel that, for its accessibility and seamless narrative structure, holds a great deal of gains a perspective on the social, cultural, and economic forces that can divide Canadians. Nelson’s novel is light on its feet, nimble and brisk."                            -SPG Book Reviews

What inspired '250 Hours'?

The initial inspiration for 250 Hours came four years ago when a friend told me the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996. I thought they had closed long before and was curious as to why they remained open so long given the amount of controversy.
I started doing some research purely for personal interest and realized that residential schools were an aspect of Canadian history that needed more exposure. I had completed my second novel, The Fall, which dealt with adolescent grief, and I wanted to tackle another weighty issue with my next book. The legacy of the residential school system was something I wanted to explore.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Shortly after '250 Hours' was released, the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were released. After countless interviews with survivors, the report described the use of residential schools are 'cultural genocide'. 

This is a dark, shameful part of Canadian history, but one that needs to be discussed and taught in schools.