Rina Gibbons, Ottawa
Escaping from Winnipeg at age 18, Rina began her life of travel and adventure. Having visited over 28 countries, she has resided in Japan, France, India, and most recently, Bermuda. The Triangle spit her out after 11 years and Rina landed in Ottawa. A graduate of the Professional Writing Program at Algonquin, she has also obtained a Bachelors of Commerce in Marketing and International Business from Carleton. Published widely online and in print, her award-winning essay about her daughter’s autism diagnosis is the jewel in her crown.
As a Story Terrace writer, Rina interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
The Book Rebel
I was somewhat of an awkward child: plain, slightly chubby, and certainly not athletically inclined. Overlooked and invisible to many, I found myself drawn to the captivating worlds I found in books.
This was before the digital age of Kindles. Books were not only my cerebral escapes – the heavy weight of a hardcover in my hands, the musky scent of the paper, the sharp sensation of sliding my finger down the edge of the page and the sound when it turned – but they were also physically satisfying.
Each week, my local librarian would leave a stack on hold for me and I devoured at least one a day. Books took me to exotic places, and in my mind I became those enchanting characters having remarkable journeys while stuck in the heart of the Canadian prairies.
However, my voracious reading also became a source of conflict. My parents often caught me with a book and a flashlight under my blankets. They never reprimanded me though; imploring me instead to get some sleep.
My teachers were not as indulgent. One day, my sixth grade teacher whipped open my desk and snatched the book I had been reading through the slightly opened lid. My punishment: stand in the corner of the room with the book balanced on my head.
When class was over, I watched her leave the room without a word to me. Our science teacher came in for next period and took in the sight of me while suppressing her smile. My voice squeaking, I asked her if I could go back to my desk. Her head tilted to the side.
“My dear,” she finally replied, “There is no doubt in my mind you will do the same thing in my class.” She granted me a chair and I sat in the corner with the book still atop my head.
I was heading into my teenage years, so I suppose this was how my defiance played out. I devised ways to read when I wasn’t supposed to. Whether it was hiding a smaller novel in my textbooks or taking numerous lengthy bathroom breaks, I was determined that my teachers would not keep me from my literary adventures.
In the history of my school, I had the distinct honour of receiving detention and being sent to the principal’s office for reading books, a badge I wear proudly.
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