I Can Make This Promise

HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2019. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062871992.
Gr 3-7–In this debut novel, a young girl discovers her grandmother’s Hollywood aspirations and her mother’s Suquamish and Duwamish ancestry. Edie knows that her white Dad is American and that her Native American mom was adopted into a white family, but that’s almost all she knows of her heritage. Then, a casual excursion to the attic unearths pictures of Edith, a stranger who resembles Edie, and hard truths her family has kept hidden for years start to emerge. Day (tribally enrolled, Upper Skagit) captures the angst, embarrassment, and uncertainty of many Indigenous people whose parents or grandparents were separated from their communities by adoption or residential school placement. Day details Indigenous culture with skill and nuance and crafts complex relationships between multidimensional characters. The depiction of the painful history of Native peoples who were separated from their families and taken from their ancestral homeland is straightforward and honest. The use of text messages between Edie and her close friends moves the story along and gives the book an intimate feel.
VERDICT Readers will be drawn into Edie’s emotions as she copes with overprotective parents and honesty in relationships. Keep an eye out for Day, as her writing is powerful. Highly recommended.

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