True to its title, this powerful collection draws attention to painful problems that are often unnoticed or ignored. The Indigenous women who go missing on the Highway of Tears, the horrifying truth that people set other people on fire, the near-unbearable loss of a child—these are just some of the forms of suffering Sarah de Leeuw touches on in her book. Her real skill in writing comes from her ability to build empathy for each of her subjects.
Many of the essays have been lauded with honours, including one winner of the CBC Creative Nonfiction Award, another won a Western Magazine Gold Award, and the collection was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards. De Leeuw’s writing is purposeful and poignant, and as each essay meanders to its powerful conclusion, the reader can clearly see de Leeuw’s careful lacework in tying each one together. Where It Hurts is a collection of essays that begs to be held delicately, for the reader to return to its stories and prudently consider each detail.