We Watch the Waves is Susan Riley’s personal quest of discovery, a daughter learning to break the silence surrounding her father’s death. What drives the search and propels the story is the sudden revelation that her father’s death in August 1947 in post-war Winnipeg had been by suicide. The mystery surrounding his violent death in the basement of his home, when Riley was nine months old, grows with each new revelation.
Riley’s personal journey follows her father and RCAF Squadron 413 to the Shetland Islands in northern Scotland and south around the Cape of Good Hope to Ceylon in 1942. The intersecting path follows her mother to her wartime teaching job in Minnesota and her bond with an American social worker. In this poignant memoir, an older Riley discovers her youthful parents as they try to survive in a sexually repressed upper-class Winnipeg milieu.
- A Vancouver Sun editor’s choice, February 2008
“…(a) very moving book. An extaordinary journey.” – P.K. Page
“It’s a quietly courageous book that traces her often lonely journey from fear and beyond secrets into the comparative safety of understanding her personal history.” – Lesley Hughes, Winnipeg Free Press
“Riley’s dogged and clear-eyed pursuit of the truth about their lives and about her father’s mysterious, tragic death speaks volumes about the resilience of the human spirit and our need to understand, no matter what the cost, from whence we come.” – Maureen Hunter, playwright
“Susan Riley has created a lovely and gripping story…bravo for transforming personal loss and pain into art – one of the most life-affirming acts I know of.” – Marjorie Anderson, co-editor of Dropped Threads anthologies