Surviving the City

illus. by Natasha Donovan. 56p. Highwater Pr. Mar. 2019. pap. $18.95. ISBN 9781553797562.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—A poignant look at the lives of two best friends, Miikwan and Dez. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Being Indigenous, they belong to one of the most marginalized populations in Canada, and every day they face the risk of experiencing violence, going missing, or even being murdered. Miikwan's mother is already missing, and Dez is worried about where she will live now that her grandmother has become too ill to be her guardian. Despite all their hardships, the teens endeavor to honor their cultures and navigate an unsafe urban environment. The main characters in this graphic novel are so expressive and authentic, it's impossible not to care for them. The earth-tone palette is appealing, and the backgrounds are dynamic—vivid yet subtle, with real-world places depicted and actual posters for books and albums on indoor walls. There are often spirits present, portrayed in transparent blues for the Indigenous ancestors, who always offer warmth and support, or stark grays and blacks for the alien spirits who identify the predators. The action moves through panels in a multitude of sizes, which advances the action smoothly and enhances the tension of the story line. Factual information is included at the end of the book, along with selected bibliographies for anyone interested in statistics and further reading.
VERDICT An important title with first-rate storytelling and beautiful use of color and design. Pair with David A. Robertson's Will I See?? for timely accounts of the systemic violence impacting Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people and their families and communities.–Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT

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