My rating: 5 of 5 stars
CW: suicide, sexual assault/abuse
Before I get into the meat of the review, there are a couple of things I’d like to mention. First, this book is based on a movie of the same name. Secondly, it is written in present tense, which was a little awkward for me and took me several chapters to become accustomed to this style of writing.
This was difficult read. Difficult in that this story tackles some pretty heavy issues (suicide, sexual assault, poverty, drugs). The author does an excellent job of telling this story and conveying emotions.
Fire Song is set on a reserve of indigenous Canadians and is told mainly from the perspective of Shane. At the start of the book, Shane is coping with the suicide of his younger sister and the effects of her tragic death on the community. Throughout the book, Shane shoulders several responsibilities while juggling his own grief. His mother isn’t coping well with her daughter’s suicide and is shutting out the support offered by the community’s elder, the trailer in which Shane and his mother live is falling apart, his girlfriend is looking for a more physical relationship, he is struggling to find a way to fund his college education, and his secret boyfriend is resistant to revealing their relationship due to the community’s vehement disapproval of homosexuality.
So yeah, heavy.
At times, I felt overwhelmed with Shane’s frustration and despair. He tries to do the best with what he’s been dealt and the oppressiveness of the lack of opportunities afforded him due to his heritage. He doesn’t always make the best decisions, but one never knows how one would react until put in a situation.
I appreciated learning about the Anishinaabe community and culture. The language, customs, and traditions were woven seamlessly in the telling of Shane’s story. The author tells of Shane’s struggles in a manner relatable across cultures, and the imagery is so detailed that I easily felt like I was looking through Shane’s eyes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It left me raw, but in a good way. Not any author can invoke such a visceral reaction from me.
**Copy provided by publisher for an honest and impartial review.**