Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones (DRC): Life on the Rez by Someone Who’s Not a Sexual Harasser

Hello! Um, well this is awkward but I seem to have overscheduled myself for DCRs this month *immediately averts eyes*. So although Cover Geek is technically on hold until further notice, I’ll be using Tuesdays as another miscellaneous day!

Anyways, without further ado, here’s my review!

f3

3 stars

After the suicide of his younger sister, Destiny, Shane is grieved from the events and how he could have missed the signs. Shane wants to turn to the one person on the rez who he loves, his friend David.

Things continue to go downhill as his dreams of going to university is shattered and his grieving mother withdraws from the word, along with his relationship with David having to stay a secret. Tragedy continues to strike as Shane’s hope of getting a better life in Toronto diminishes.

 

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I was very excited to read some Native American literature by someone who’s not a sexual harasser, and I think impact-wise, this definitely did not disappoint.

There’s such a strong message behind this piece about community, about acceptance, about family, and I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel. Shane’s change, if you look at him in the beginning and end, really shows how he’s grown as a character and come to accept himself which I found to be really awesome.

It left the reader with hope despite the generally down mood of the story as Shane takes obstacle after obstacle and almost gives up many times.

I also really loved the representation of the LGBTQ+ community and how it fit into this tribe’s own community and their viewpoints. Also, the contrast between Shane and some of him and his friends’ nonbelieving when compared with David was also very interesting and enlightening to see.

Mostly what I struggled with was just the execution in general. I felt like it could have been told better.

One of the biggest problems with this was just the whole story taking on a sort of one-tone that was very down in the dumps and it never really got very dynamic tone-wise, so there was no ecstasy in triumph or anger or any strong emotions. It kept a very steady tone and although this is commendable, I’m not sure if it was a good fit in helping the reader relate to Shane.

I think part of this could have been resolved if it was told in something other than third-person present tense, whether it was third-person past or first person because it ended up making the tone flatter.

I found it interesting how Jones added these chapters in between some of Shane’s that were first person and it took me a couple of chapters to figure out that it was his girlfriend (who he’s kind of cheating on to be with David) whose POV these chapters were in.

I wasn’t too much of a fan of the dynamic between Shane and Tara because, to be honest, Shane is a dick to her. Tara says this herself, but it irritates me that in the summary, it says:

“He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara, but she’s too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort.”

This is contrary to what Tara said in the book where she stated Shane was too invested in his own struggles to care about her, and I’m honestly going to have to side with Tara on this. The way the summary angles this to make Tara worse or a person doesn’t really appeal to me.

Shane is also just kind of terrible in general to Tara and I think their plot line could have used more closure rather than Shane just ending up with David eventually. Things happen that obviously change their dynamic, but I still wish there was more closure in there.

Similarly, I found that one of the solutions, when Shane was trying to leave the hold of the person who wanted him to drug deal, was a little too easy and ended up being too hunky-dory for me to accept as an ending.

One of the things I wanted more of was Shane’s expression of grief about Destiny and I was hoping that there’s more passion and intensity and sorrow about this because it sucks to lose a family member and Shane spends a lot of time avoiding thinking about it rather than addressing it.

Overall, this was a very impactful novel about family, grief, and acceptance. If this seems like something that would interest you, I would definitely recommend you check it out!

Also, I’ll definitely be looking up the film because Jones originally wrote the screenplay for that and it seems like something that would be interesting! I’m not sure how related the two works are.

Thank you so much to Annick Press and Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

Have you read any Native American literature? If so, which ones and what are your thoughts?

One thought on “Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones (DRC): Life on the Rez by Someone Who’s Not a Sexual Harasser

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