A welcome trend in plot lines among contemporary middle grade novels focuses on kids unsure about their family tree, especially in understanding those family members that came before them. I recently featured Some Places More Than Others, set mostly in Harlem. Today I’m switching over to the west coast of Washington State and this new offering—its roots in the treatment of Native American children prior to some much needed legislation.
Here’s a brief synopsis from HarperCollins:
All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.
Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.
Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?
MY THOUGHTS: Twelve-year-old Edie is a great character who loves to draw. Concerns about her native roots are real and understandable. The story moves at a gentle pace with many moments of quiet introspection. The relationship she has with her two best friends is changing and an old nemesis reemerges. It’s hard to deal with all of this when she can’t get answers from her parents about her name. Who exactly was she named after? Edith isn’t very common name for kids these days.
The pace and lack of a boy character (other than two brief appearances by Roger) might keep away some readers. What they’ll miss is a renewed perspective on how many Native American children were never given a fair beginning in their own country. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was something I’d never heard of and I’m glad I know about it now.
The reveal of the secret surrounding Edie’s grandmother is saved for the end and is handled in a beautiful way. Honest and heartfelt, Edie Green’s first person narration will stay with you for a long time.
I hope we’ll continue seeing more books where a child discovers their own heritage through eye opening stories like I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE.
They ask me what tribe I’m from. They ask me if I know what buffalo tastes like. They ask me about my spiritual beliefs. They ask me about the percentages and ratios of my blood.
My answer remains the same: “I don’t really know . My mom was adopted.”
About CHRISTINE DAY: Christine Day (Upper Skagit) grew up in Seattle, nestled between the sea, the mountains, and the pages of her favorite books. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington, where she created a thesis on Coast Salish weaving traditions. I Can Make This Promise is her first novel. Christine lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. (For more visit Christine’s web site).
I received a copy of the book for my honest review.
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