One summer night, twenty-eight-year-old Kim Lystander is walking to work in downtown Toronto when she is attacked by a stranger. In the days, weeks and months that follow, her life is thrown into turmoil. The attack doesn't just affect her but is felt throughout several lives.
Her estranged father Harold, a Latin American historian, decides to investigate the crime on his own, stirring up troubles from his past. His investigation introduces him to Rosemary Yates, a woman who gives asylum to anyone who seeks it and Rodrigo Cantero, a young Colombian man who is in the country illegally and staying with Rosemary. As Harold also involves Father Andrew Rowe, a local priest, in the situation it brings everyone to a troubling crossroads.
I have to say that I had high hopes Cities of Refuge. I love books that are set in the city of Toronto and the plot sounded like it will shed light on a hush-hush world that exists here. But I just could not get into this book.
For me, it felt like it took too long to get into the story and there were too many diversions. Trying to keep up with everyones stories and thoughts seems to be just too much and for a while I felt like I was reading different books.
The book did make me wonder about the Toronto that illegal immigrants live in versus the Toronto that I live in and the ways in which our cities do become one. But unfortunately the book only made me wonder rather than help me understand. I do give Helm credit for tackling the subject, for creating deep characters and for intersecting their very different lives. But other than that, I just couldn't see what the buzz about this book was.