Images Via HarperCollins

This Beautiful Middle-Grade Novel About Native American Identity Is a Game Changer

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day doesn’t come out until October 1st, but it’s already making waves. Day’s debut is inspired by her own family’s history and follows a girl named Edie Green who uncovers her family’s secrets, and discovers her true identity as Native American.

Christine Day and I Can Make This Promise | Images Via HarperCollins

 

Tackling themes of identity, coming-of-age and First Nations family separations, Christine Day, who is Upper Skagit, has written a beautiful, sensitive and hopeful debut, and in doing so has added some much needed First Nations representation to the middle-grade reading pool.

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.

Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?

While the story is inspired by Day’s own family history, the book is not autobiographical. In an interview with The Horn Book Inc., Day stated:

In earlier drafts of this book, the family’s story was almost identical to mine. When I finally departed from the full, absolute truth of my personal history, I fell in love with the revision process. It was so liberating and inspiring to blur the lines between fact and fiction. Everything in this book still feels like it could be true to me. But it no longer feels like I’ve said too much.

I Can Make This Promise has received starred reviews from both Kirkus Reviews, who calls it, “enlightening and a must-read for anyone interested in issues surrounding identity and adoption”, and Publishers Weekly who have dubbed it “an affecting novel [that] also considers historical truths about how Native Americans have been treated throughout U.S. history, particularly underlining family separations.” Cherokee Nation’s Traci Sorell, award-winning author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, says “Day’s novel brings an accessible, much-needed perspective about the very real consequences of Indigenous children being taken from their families and Native Nations. The absence of one’s tribal community, loss of culture and lack of connection to relatives have ripple effects for generations.”

Described by Hayley Chewins, author of The Turnaway Girls, as a book that “manages to be both deeply sad and brightly hopeful”, I Can Make This Promise approaches difficult subject matter with the sensitivity and skill required by any great children’s author, which is what Day undoubtedly is.

Day holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington, where she wrote her thesis on Coast Salish weaving traditions. A huge ice cream fan, (her favorite flavors are Rainbow Sherbet by Baskin-Robbins and Half Baked by Ben & Jerry’s, for those wondering), Day is also super into Harry Potter (rating Prisoner of Azkaban as her number one!) and the Marvel Comics Universe.  You can find her online at bychristineday.com, where she has writing tips, a discussion guide for educators, a blog, fun facts and more! You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with her news, as there is sure to be lots to come!