Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones
Published by Annick Press on March 13th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
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. Shane’s rocky road to finding himself takes many twists and turns, but ultimately ends with him on a path that doesn’t always offer easy answers, but one that leaves the reader optimistic about his fate.
Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones is a contemporary set on a reserve and follows a native teen after the suicide of his younger sister and the conditions of living as a gay male in a community that is not accepting. Before jumping into this one, be aware that is comes with content warnings: drug/alcohol abuse, suicide, rape, and bullying.
This was a really tough read for me both emotional and mentally. It follows Shane, an in the closet gay male as he navigates his life and the impact his sister’s suicide had on his family and the rest of the community on the reserve. Shane has big dreams of making to Toronto and getting a university education, but many obstacles now lay in his way.
The writing was very real and rather blunt. The author has a specific way of telling his story that doesn’t sugar coat the harsh reality that native people even in this day and age are still living in. I can say that when I went into this I didn’t know half of what I just learned, and I am thankful to the author for bringing this to younger audience’s attention.
The characters are all flawed but realistic teenagers that share all the same problems that teens do that grow up in major cities but at a more raw level. The author touches on tough aspects of what its like to grow up on a conservation.
I really enjoyed Shane’s journey through his story. His search for happiness and love does not go unnoticed as he navigates what it means to be the man of the house but also figuring out his sexual identity and where he fits into the world.
Fire Song was just as much an education piece as it was a fictional journey that takes readers through several emotions while reading. I highly recommend it if you want to learn more about the live of native teens and how they are still being treated to this day.
Have you read Fire Song? What did you think of it?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
Over the last ten years, ADAM GARNET JONES (Cree/Metis/ Danish) has written and directed a series of award-winning films that toured the international film circuit from Toronto to L.A., Sydney, Berlin and Beijing.
Adam released his first dramatic feature-length film, “Fire Song”, at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. “Fire Song” went on to win the Air Canada Audience Choice Award at ImagineNATIVE, the world’s largest Indigenous Media Arts Festival before picking up three more audience choice awards and two jury prizes for best film. Even before the film was green-lit for production, the script for “Fire Song” won the WGC’s Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize. “Fire Song” can be seen now on Netflix USA.