Frontier’s Jessica Matten on her five favourite books

Toronto actor offers up a powerful and provocative reading list


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Jessica Matten, ‘Frontier’

This fall, the second season of Canadian historical drama Frontier premiered on Discovery with Toronto’s Jessica Matten back in action as Sokanon alongside series star Jason (“Aquaman”) Momoa.   

The show follows a band of outlaws led by Declan Harp (Momoa) battling the Hudson’s Bay Company over the burgeoning fur trade.

Matten, born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, had her breakthrough performance in the award-winning short film A Red Girl’s Reasoning. She moved to Toronto to pursue her acting career, and following the success of Frontier, which has already announced a third season, Matten was also named as a cast member of the upcoming CBC drama Burden of Truth. 

Matten offers up five of her most influential reads for your holiday reading pleasure:

The Break by Katherena Vermette
This novel takes place in the area that my mother grew up in and where she fought hard to make sure her own children were not raised, in hopes that we would have a better life. So it resonates on many personal levels. Also it is a story that touches on the treatment of our Indigenous girls/women, an issue dear to my heart that I constantly try to raise awareness about.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
I can not tell you how many times I’ve read this novel. Each time, it makes me laugh and breaks my heart in a different way. Again, it reminds me of a bit of my upbringing as I lived in 26 different homes by the age of 20. So I understand the vagabond life, so to speak.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 
Incredible novel. I related to the character because it really hit home — always feeling like I never fit in at school with my equally Canadian and Indigenous identity. I live in two worlds very much like this character.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
I read this novel in one night. I stayed up until 5 a.m. and read it. I could not put this book down. What an incredible job encapsulating the essence and spirit of this beautiful protagonist’s fight for freedom and struggle as a woman of colour. I’ve always been drawn to novels with strong female voices overcoming impossible situations. This character is the voice of the strength that I believe all of us women embody.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I love novels that help educate on the experiences people share outside of the continent. There is nothing more moving than learning about the struggle and triumphs of others and being able to take a peek into their lives and cultures. Books like this teach me more about what it means to be human and keep me wanting to stay open and understand other peoples’ perspectives in this world. 

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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