Fire song

Adam Garnet Jones

Book - 2018

"How can Shane reconcile his feelings for David with his desire for a better life? Shane is still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. How could he have missed the fact that she was so sad? He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara, but she's too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person on the rez whom he loves--his friend, David. Things go from bad to worse as Shane's dream of going to university is shattered and his grieving mother withdraws from the world. Worst of all, he and David have to hide their relationship from everyone. Shane feels that his only chance of a better life is moving to Toronto, but David refuses to ...join him. When yet another tragedy strikes, the two boys have to make difficult choices about their future together. With deep insight into the life of Indigenous people on the reserve, this book masterfully portrays how a community looks to the past for guidance and comfort while fearing a future of poverty and shame"--

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Toronto : Annick Press [2018]
Main Author
Adam Garnet Jones (author)
Item Description
"Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones is based on the film 'Fire Song' produced by Fire Song Films Inc. and Big Soul Productions Inc. and written and directed by Adam Garnet Jones"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
230 pages ; 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Shane's sister committed suicide, his mother isn't leaving the house or going back to work, and his hopes of leaving for university are quickly disappearing. Tara, Shane's self-obsessed girlfriend, certainly isn't helping matters, although she is right about one thing: Shane isn't being a very good boyfriend. David and Shane are secretly seeing each other (or, at least, they were), leaving Shane torn between his love for David and his desire to escape to Toronto for school. Based on his movie of the same name, Jones' debut novel is a tragic but hopeful exploration of queer Indigenous life in a less than accepting community. Perhaps the only downside is a number of instances of body shaming that occur early in the novel, which, while realistic among a group of teenagers, is not entirely needed for the narrative. In the end, though, Shane's story reveals the precariousness of being queer in an Indigenous community that is tied to the past, while struggling in a world shaped by colonialism.--Bittner, Rob Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"No one tells you how much you can hurt and still look normal on the outside," says Shane, an 18-year-old Anishinaabe living in Canada. The rundown reservation that he calls home is at once comforting, isolating, and stifling. Shane's younger sister Destiny's recent suicide has prompted him to navigate his own jagged emotions. As his mother falls apart emotionally, the bright spots in Shane's life become his secret boyfriend, David, and the thought of escaping to Toronto for college. But David doesn't want to leave the reservation, and Shane's lack of funds leads him to deal drugs. Jones's striking and remarkable novel, adapted from his feature film of the same name, is tensely narrated and includes some chapters featuring Shane's public girlfriend Tara's diary entries and poetry. Tara doesn't know that Shane is gay and loves him, which adds another layer of sadness and complication to the lyrical story. Jones's intensely personal account about letting go to move forward is replete with immersive imagery of nature and bathed in darkness. Ages 14-18. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Shane is a gay Anishinaabe high school student. His sister, Destiny, has just committed suicide for unknown reasons. Shane's mom holes herself up in Destiny's room in a deep depression. At her memorial service, Shane goes emotionally adrift. The only person that truly makes Shane happy is David. Everything else about his life sucks: the teen has to pretend to have a girlfriend while sneaking around with David because he doesn't think his community would accept his sexuality. Shane decides that he must leave the reservation and wants David to go with him. He even tries selling drugs to get some escape money. After his girlfriend, Tara, commits suicide, Shane withdraws further within himself and begins to wonder if his life is worth leading. This complex, well-written debut will resonate with young people. The primary and secondary characters are fully developed and the pacing will keep readers engaged. Despite the dangerous turn of events, the two boys eventually find love and acceptance. VERDICT A great coming-out novel with Native American protagonists; recommended for all teen collections.-Jill Baetiong, Kaneville Public Library, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

After the sudden death of his sister, Shane, an Anishinaabe teen, is left to carry the weight of grief for his family.His mother is inconsolable. His girlfriend has become clingy. And his secret love, David, keeps him at a distance, as the pair hasn't quite found a way to co-exist within a reservation community where there are no openly gay couples. Shane is dealt another crushing blow after his sister's memorial when he discovers that the funding for his college tuition deposit hasn't been approved by the band. College in Toronto is the one escape that Shane believes will offer him a semblance of a future that might not be forever lost within the cyclical trauma that exists in his communityeven though his family sees his leaving the rez to go to college as a betrayal. From the first page, Cree/Mtis filmmaker Jones (adapting his award-winning film of the same name) uses a poetic voice to interlace the landscape and the main character as one symbiotic being. Complex, vulnerable emotion is embedded within the specificity of the writing in this dramatic prose debut. Jones avoids clichs of reservation life, humanizing the stories of how his people reconcile the trauma of suicide, missing family members, same-sex relationships, and the isolation of a community left to fend for itself. A touching story that has been a long time coming for the Indigenous community. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Chapter 1 Shane is awake, wishing he wasn't. The alarm clock makes a soft warning click before flooding the room with staticky Top 40. Too loud. Shane reaches an arm out from under the covers and hits snooze for the third time. It feels better in bed. Not good, but better. As long as his door is closed, no one wants anything from him. No one is asking if he's okay, as if he'd tell them the truth anyways . He'll have to make a move eventually, but if he can coax himself into a Drift, he can delay a little longer. Sometimes when he's upset, the Drift comes in and takes him out like a rogue wave. Whooooosh --he's somewhere else. Other days, if he can get his mind to stop spinning and if he breathes in the right way, he can call the Drift in. Shane takes a long sip of air, praying for it to fill every unseen part of him. When his chest starts to burn, he lets out the breath in a gentle, focused stream. The Drift begins as a tingle. It starts in his fingertips, then creeps up his arms and over the tender flesh of his neck until it blooms over his eyelids and bursts into a constellation of squirming silver pinpricks thatfill his field of vision. Warmth pulses through his center and guides him out of his body. If only his whole life could have the rush of sweetness that comes during a Drift, when the weight of his limbs drops away and the purest part of him rises high up through the dripping ceiling and out over the top of his house. He floats above the tree line and passes into that magic halfway-place between the earth and the sky. Even on his worst days, the snaking line of the creek and the tree-furred shores of the silver water can stop his heart. It's the home of his ancestors. The place of prophecy, where food grows upon the water. A place where, if you can fly away from the level of the earth and see it all with the eyes of a crow, there will always be balance. No matter how much struggle is skewing the edges of the circle down below. Maybe that's what his sister was looking for--the eyes of a crow at the end of a rope. Stop thinking of her , Shane tells himself. He shifts his attention to the breeze blowing over his face and lets it rinse the thought clean away. Shane floats out over the houses; first the little old ones like his that have been here the longest, and then on to the crisp siding and double-glazed windows of the bigger places built by people with money. The edge of the reserve is dotted with trailers. People on TV talk about trailers like they are the crap, but Tara's is bigger than Shane's house. And if you want to you can pick them up and move them anywhere you want. Not that he's ever seen one move once it got put down. People are that way too, unless you have your eyes on school. Most people think that if you're smart, you won't stick around long. And if you graduate and don't take off to the city then you probably don't have much to offer the band anyway. One time Roberta, the school counselor, told Shane that education is like the golden ticket Charlie found in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . Shane mentioned it to Tara later and she said that a kid who licks wallpaper and ends up living with a crazy old man in a purple velvet suit isn't such a great role model. She may be right. The wind changes and Shane Drifts over the dirt road that leads to the sun-bleached wooden benches of the powwow grounds, where the air meets the water at the edge of the lake. People from all over gather here at the height of summer to catch up with faraway family, to show off new babies and new regalia, to sing and dance and laugh and eat, and snag. But even when there's no one there, the powwow grounds have the shine of the people lighting it up from the inside. It's like the room of a dying man or the ground where a midwife stands, reaching into the edge of the spirit world. Sacred, you know? His sister, Destiny, was almost crowned powwow princess here last year. She would have been, too, if she had taken the time to braid her hair and finish the details on her regalia the way the other girls did. The judges probably thought she didn't care enough. But she did care. Not about pulling her hair back or finishing the hemline of her regalia. She just wanted to dance. And she had more grace--more of the healing power of that jingle dress dance--in her than anyone he's ever seen. Shane loved watching her feet move like a whisper over the ground, impossibly soft and quick, almost floating in her moccasins. She was so ... And just like that he's back in his bed again, eyes bulging, and gasping for air like a pickerel flipped onshore. There's nothing like the half-awake peace of forgetting for a few minutes that your little sister is dead, before reality busts in and pisses all over everything. Shane had felt sad and angry when people in his family and community passed on to the spirit world, but nothing could have prepared him for the sick heat that has been twisting in his guts since the night Destiny did it. No one tells you how much you can hurt and still look normal on the outside. Shane takes deep breath after deep breath, trying to get into another Drift, but it's no use. He's not going anywhere. A drop of gray water hangs from the ceiling. It gathers moisture from the soggy drywall, growing and drooping until it splashes into an overflowing bucket. Ripples race out to touch the edges of the bucket, and then disappear. Shane watches the drops grow heavy and fall, each transforming into the energy of tiny waves that dissipate into nothingness. David would see those ripples and say that everything is alive. Shane's science teacher would say that energy never dies. The idea is the same, but nothing explains what happens when those ripples crash against the wall and the water goes flat. Excerpted from Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.