Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Reviews: Fire Song
Publish August 14, 2018
Reeling from the suicide death of his younger sister Destiny, Shane feels life on the Rez closing in on him and the only way out is going to Toronto for university. When he learns his scholarship has fallen through because of a mix up in his Band registration, Shane is left to face his grieving mother, hidden sexuality and his own guilt over his sister’s death. Caught in between the life he wants and the life he’s expected to have, Shane struggles to find another way out, only to find he might not be as closed in as he thought.
The book adaptation of a 2015 film of the same name, Fire Song captures the despair felt by Shane as he considers his limited options. In his Rez community no family has been left untouched by suicide, yet the talking circles reveal a conflict between wanting to change things and accepting what is considered to be inevitable. This discord is mirrored in the lives of those closest to Shane – his secret boyfriend David and his public girlfriend Tara.
Author/director/screenwriter Adam Garnet Jones uses both film and print to discuss a timely issue – the disillusionment of Indigenous youth and the systemic problems influencing their ability to envision a different future free from poverty, government conflicts and homophobia.
Managing to inject hope into this heart-rending set of circumstances, Garnet Jones uses Shane’s story to show change is possible through action, love and reconnection to Indigenous beliefs.
An avid promoter of Canadian teen fiction, Amy Mathers completed the Marathon of Books in 2014. The money she raised allowed the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to fund the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. She also reviews for the Canadian Children’s Book News and writes a monthly article for the CCBC e-newsletter.
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