Cover Image: Spíləx̣m


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I sadly cannot give it a proper rating as the audiobook glitched a lot and when it didn’t I had a hard time following the language that’s as foreign to me.

Was this review helpful?

In <i> Spíləx̣m</i>, Nicola Campbell recounts her memories of overcoming adversity and colonial trauma to find strength and healing through creative works and traditional perspectives.

Nicola Campbell did a fabulous job both writing and narrating this memoir. I enjoyed getting to know more about the British Columbia Indigenous culture through Campbell’s stories. Some of the things she endured were horrendous, and I am happy for her that she was one of the people able to come through to the other side. I highly recommend this memoir!

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this book.

Was this review helpful?

This book is an essential read for anyone trying to familiarize themselves with Indigenous wisdom from Nations from the West coast of Turtle Island. Through this memoir and stories of her people, Nicola Campbell shares her experience through colonial systems and the erasure of the true history of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in schools and mainstream narratives. The audiobook was particularly effective to hear accurate pronunciations of Nations, languages, and words from Nłeʔkepmx and Syilx, as well as other Coast Salish (another colonized term) dialects. It is fundamentally important to understand what healing has looked like for Campbell in her communities in order to understand the ongoing impact of genocide, assimilation, and discriminatory policies on FNMI populations. The poetry interspersed throughout the personal stories and teachings enhanced the reading experience.

Was this review helpful?

Spílexm refers to the shared stories among Elders in the Nłeʔkepmxcín language. And this encapsulates Spílexm excellently. Spílexm weaves together vignettes from the author’s life with life lessons on resilience and harrowing facts of Native erasure in Canada.

I learned so much from this book. I haven’t read many books in the past written by Indigenous people, so I was happy to add this one to my collection. This book should receive as much acclaim as Braiding Sweetgrass as being a leading voice for Indigenous peoples advocacy and rights.

The storytelling style was very interesting. Campbell doesn’t tell all of her stories in a traditionally logical order. Spílexm uses elements of memoir to tell a story, but Campbell skips in time and interrupts stories in the middle to give a lesson on resilience. I personally liked this jigsaw style of writing, but I understand it might not be for everyone.

At first I felt myself questioning who this book is for. At times, it felt like it was veering into toxic positivity territory. Resilience has become a buzzword for me that elicits an eye-roll. But when I realized that she was writing this book for other Indigenous people, I stepped outside my privilege and really listened to what she was saying. This book isn’t for non-Natives looking for a tragic story to make them feel more well-rounded, but really just more safe in their privilege; this is for those Native people to be seen and reassured that they are not in their suffering alone. This is what I liked best about the book.

I will give a content warning for this book (again, not for non-Native people, because this content warning is not an excuse to turn your back on the devastating effects of colonialism). It talks a lot about the genocide that occurs in the residential schools. There are also several mentions of suicide.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. Campbell holds nothing back in this gripping content, and she knows exactly who she is speaking to without making anyone feel isolated.

Was this review helpful?

I’m a sucker for a memoir where the author narrates, and let me tell you, Nicola I. Campbell has the most beautiful, soothing voice. Campbell weaves reflections on the land and traditional knowledge, which is told in such a conversational way, as if you’re at a coffee table and chatting with relatives about family history and ancestral connections.

Combining the Nleʔkepmxcín language, poetics, and histories into her life examinations really adds a level of beauty and complexity into this memoir. Her immersive retellings transport you directly into the story, where settings become full characters. Truly, Campbell does an amazing job describing her environments, so much so that you can smell the wild tiger lilies she talks about (another fun fact about me, these are my favourite flowers!)

Pick up this book if:
- You loved The Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean and would enjoy a darker but still as cozy audiobook
- The poetics of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson resonate with you
- You are looking for the perfect road trip book
- You want to read a personalized book on Indigenous histories to add to your reading list for National Indigenous History Month and beyond

Thank you Netgalley and Portage & Main Press for providing me with an advanced listening copy of this book—I can’t recommend this audiobook enough!

Was this review helpful?

The connection between language and culture is in every fiber of this book. From the terms used for family or flora and fauna. It was also so nice to hear them spoken aloud, such a beautiful language. It was also in the way the struggles that are common place issues on reservations were discussed. The way she never shied away from the dark times, also was part of the culture and therefore, the language. The way these people who struggled- whom society might say are not worth sympathy or caring - were talked about with such care and respect was also evidence of the language. Campbell portrayed them with such gentleness- unless they wronged another person, and even then they were spoken about clinically.
She showed the lasting scars and trauma inflicted on her people by the government. Be it laws that called their heritage into question, or the cruel schools and graveyards of children on their grounds. Its always portrayed as the fact of the past, something the adults, and herself, experienced and now live with.
Then there's the other problems that come with such horrific scars- the alcoholism, depression, the suicide that takes so many of her family and her friends' families. It's all portrayed with an unflinching reality and understanding for the suffering that even while drunk, while depressed, one might feel.
It was wrenching to listen to, but hearing it from her own voice as the narrator made it so authentic in a way that I don't think could have been possible with a different narrator from the author. Her love was evident, as was her fear, her frustration, her sadness, even her depression and suicidal ideation, and her frustration with that as well.
Just an amazing tale of one woman's life, and through her stories- her language and through her language- the story of her people.

Was this review helpful?

This was an outstanding book.

I loved the writing, the stories, and the open/honest author (Campbell).

One of the best Indigenous reads over the last few months.

I learned so much about BC Indigenous culture from this book.

Strong book.

Nicola is an amazing writer. I would keep an eye on them!

Would recommend!


Was this review helpful?