Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton

April Raintree
by Beatrice Culleton
Published: September 1, 2016
Original Publication: 1984
Publisher: HighWater Press
Source: NetGalley
Get It: Amazon  

An updated revised version of the novel In Search of April Raintree, written specifically for students in grades 9 through 12. Through her characterization of two young sisters who are removed from their family, the author poignantly illustrates the difficulties that many Aboriginal people face in maintaining a positive self-identity.

--> The Métis (/meɪˈtiː/; Canadian French: [meˈtsɪs]; Michif: [mɪˈtʃɪf]) are an indigenous people of North America. They developed as the mixed-race descendants of unions between, generally, First Nations women and French or British men, but over time there were more intermarriages within the group.


My Review:


* I will warn that the matter in this book may trigger some people. It contains rape, abuse, suicide and alcoholism. *


  April Raintree, originally published in 1984 is being republished in September of 2016. It is an adapted version of In Search of April Raintree for kids in high school. It follows the story of April and her younger sister Cheryl who are taken from their parents at a young age and put into foster care. They are sent to multiple families throughout their childhood and continues on until their early twenties. April's perspective is cynical compared to Cheryl's toward their heritage and life. While April tries to hide being Metis and trying to live a better lifestyle than the one they grew up with, Cheryl embraces her Metis and wants to improve the lives of their fellow people. While it is a story of a reality that many people should be aware of, the subject matter is incredibly heavy for those in high school and younger. It includes sad accounts of alcoholism, rape, and discrimination to the point of denying one's heritage. This is a story set in Canada and inspired from the author's own life, who was forced into foster care with her siblings. I feel this story can apply to the USA and Australia as well (to name a few), that many Natives have become suppressed by society. This is a story to educate people about the present Metis and Native American cultures and aware of the discrimination they face in our society. I believe the vocabulary and sentence structures in the novel are at a sufficient level for people that those who struggle with reading comprehension will not have difficulty. 

  The life that Culleton describes for the two sisters: from childhood, going to school, to college and work; make it easy for possible teenagers to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the Raintree sisters. I liked the duality of the two sisters: one more ethnically obvious that she is Metis and feeling a strong connection to that identity, and the lighter skinned sister who rejects her heritage, believing the racist stereotypes of the Native people that White people say. This story paints a great portrayal of the communities of the Metis and Native Americans today. The events in the novel portraying the vicious cycle of Indigenous people being stereotyped as alcoholics and not working, to wanting to prove that stereotype wrong,  to then being so succumbed by discrimination in some form that you start drinking to emotionally cope with it and then become addicted, to needing welfare to take care of your family, etc. This books open a lot of discussion on history and current events inside the classroom that I think needed. I think you have to be a robot to not be sympathetic or take something away from this novel. 



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