Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Rez Runaway

Publish September 8, 2016

In Melanie Florence’s latest hi-lo novel, Rez Runaway, seventeen-year-old Joe Littlechief doesn’t quite fit in on the rez. Joe doesn’t act like the other boys, and he has a secret crush on Benjy, his best friend since childhood. After doing a little research, Joe begins to suspect that he is “two-spirited” – an Aboriginal name for those with both female and male identities in one body. One night, after getting a bit tipsy, Joe kisses Benjy, and the news that Joe is gay quickly becomes rez gossip. Beaten, mocked, and rejected by his mother and friends, Joe ends up on the streets of Toronto, selling himself to make money for food. Just when Joe hits rock bottom, he meets Obsidian – “Sid” – a transgender teen whose parents abandoned her. Sid is the only person who unconditionally accepts Joe, and the two concoct a plan to leave Toronto and escape homelessness forever. But the streets are unpredictable, and Joe and Sid are unprepared for the dangerous curveball that threatens their future together. A Lorimer Sidestreets novel for reluctant readers, Rez Runaway is a quick and vivid snapshot of life on the streets of Toronto. Covering tough topics such as gay bashing, gender identity, and underage prostitution, Florence unflinchingly depicts the risks encountered by GLBTQ teens. A gritty fairy tale for modern times, Rez Runaway communicates hope and compassion to an increasingly vulnerable teen demographic with an optimistic endnote that all teens need to hear: “It really does get better.”

Rez Runaway

Melanie Florence
James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
ISBN 13: 978-1-4594-1162-3

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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