Vigorous, independent, stubborn and sometimes difficult to get along with, 28-year-old Rozalind of Salmon Arm has Multiple Sclerosis. Through endless appointments, she desperately searches for a cure while trying to make sense of her new condition. Out of options, she moves home, but her mother is unexpectedly faced with a serious illness of her own. As Roz becomes more despondent and isolated, her faithful dog, Deputy, is her main companion as Roz builds an inner life with a growing awareness of God. Her world view begins to change. That's the gist of Mona Houle's far from dreary fictionalized memoir, Hope from Stone - A Walk with Multiple Sclerosis (2018), written after Houle took two mentorship programs with Gail Anderson-Dargatz. The feisty quality of the protagonist's personality keeps the reader engaged as Roz moves from being a somewhat cynical, fault-finding victim to becoming a calm, secure empowered woman of age. Clearly based on personal experience, this is a very worthwhile book for anyone who wants to understand MS.

Born Dec 27, 1961, Mona Houle of Victoria was a latch key kid who left home in South Burnaby, B.C., at seventeen. She worked in the graphics industry fulltime for ten years until moving to the social services field part-timem when she she launched Mo's Art Design & Services in 1995. It served as an umbrella for a variety of creative pursuits that included vinyl signs, website design,Christmas windows, Art Exhibitions (with Paperviews Art Group), children's art classes, and selling her goods at local markets and festivals. She was trained at Vancouver Vocational Institute, Capilino College and Emily Carr College of Art & Design. She never seriously considered writing until advancing Multiple Sclerosis forced her to give up both her day job and the visual arts. She has attended many writing classes, courses, workshops and conferences. She plans to continue writing a series with the same character set from Hope from Stone.

Houle has relocated to live in a better climate in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island, where she has bought a trailer and lives on Indigenous land.

BOOKS:

Hope from Stone (Mo's Art Media, Victoria, 2018)$17.99 978-1-77536-800-7

[BCBW 2018]