An average ‘rez’ life struggle story with a twist
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Teen suicide, homosexuality and reservation life. These are the hot points to connect with Native youth today that the book ‘Fire Song’ by Adam Garnet Jones hits.
These major points are brought forth from the beginning starting with a memorial service.
The main character, Shane is introduced suffering from the loss of his sister to suicide.
He is at her memorial service disassociating from the experience as a way to cope with his grief.
The lack of being able to cope with the loss of his sister affects Shane and his mother, creating a disconnection between the two.
Almost right after the memorial service, Shane finds out he does not have the money to go to school in Toronto like he had planned and must choose between an inheritance to go to school or to fix the roof of his mother’s house.
The disassociation spells Shane experiences are what he refers to as a drift. It is explained as him leaving the physical world and floating into the spiritual world.
There is a lot of spiritualism in this book and it is beautifully described. Shane’s sister’s spirit haunts him at times as he struggles to pull his mother from the depressive state she has fallen under. Think Native ‘13 Reasons Why.’
Shane also struggles with his attraction to David, while trying to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend Tara.
Tara has a narrative in the book describing her thoughts through a notebook of journal entries and poems.
The narrative seems out of place at first since she is the only character, besides Shane, to have a voice throughout the book. As the plot moves along, the importance becomes clear why her internal thoughts needed to be expressed.
An issue that is never addressed directly is the unwillingness to express thoughts and emotions that lead to an escalation of events affecting not just the person holding back but also everyone around them.
This is a Native coming-of-age story probably best suited for older young adults. There are parts in the book dealing with sexuality and profanity sprinkled throughout. Overall, it is not a terrible book as it does address issues trying to be vocalized within the Native American community today.