Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Debbie--have you seen REZ RUNAWAY by Melanie Florence?

Yesterday's review of Melanie Florence's Missing Nimama generated a lot of private email and social media from Native people who are uncomfortable with it but didn't want to say anything. I also got two emails asking if I've seen her Rez Runaway. Published in 2016 in Canada, with a 2017 publication year in the US, it is in Lorimer's reluctant reader "Side Streets" series. Here's the synopsis:
Raised on a reserve in northern Ontario, seventeen-year-old Joe Littlechief tries to be like the other guys. But Joe knows he's different -- he's more interested in guys than in any of the girls he knows. One night Joe makes a drunken pass at his best friend Benjy and, by the next morning, everyone on the rez is talking about Joe. His mother, a devout Christian, is horrified, and the kids who are supposed to be his friends make it clear there's no place for him in their circle, or even on the rez. Joe thinks about killing himself, but instead runs away to the city.
Alone and penniless on the streets of Toronto, Joe comes to identify with the Aboriginal idea of having two spirits, or combining both feminine and masculine identities in one person. He also begins to understand more about how his parents have been affected by their own experiences as children in residential schools -- something never discussed on the rez. And he realizes he has to come to terms with his two-spiritedness and find people who accept him for who he is.

I've ordered a copy and will review it when it arrives. There is next to nothing available right now that accurately portrays Native LGBTQ teens. Though emily m. danforth's The Miseducation of Cameron Post is quite popular, the Native parts of it were not well done. That really bothers me! Sometime soon, I'll be back with a review of Rez Runaway. 

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