I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no influence on my rating.
Also, this review is almost a month late. Sorry.
CW: suicide and rape
4/5 – When I finished reading this book, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I had a lot of complicated feelings about it at the time and I still do. I just want to say right off the bat, that I really enjoyed it. I also think it’s a very important book because it’s from the perspective of a Native who is part of the Anishinaabe tribe in Canada. I have never read a book about a queer character who is Native, and that’s why I wanted to read this book. I also haven’t heard anyone talk about this book which I think is disappointing. We want more diverse books written by own voices, and yet here is a book with a queer Native main character written by an author who is both Native and gay. I do hope that I can at least get out the name of the book so those who have more influence can promote it as well.
The main character in this book is Shane and things are complicated from the beginning. Shane’s younger sister Destiny has committed suicide. He has a girlfriend named Tara yet he is in a relationship with David. Now, I’m going to be upfront that I’m not a fan of this trope in M/M stories. I understand that it happens, especially in situations where homophobia is present. However, I always feel more sympathy for the girlfriends who are being used not the main character. Unfortunately, this was no different in Fire Song. However, Shane’s main storyline didn’t just revolve around his sexuality. There were plenty of other things going on in his life and while I don’t agree with the way he treated Tara, I did feel for him multiple times throughout the story.
As a result of Destiny’s suicide, Shane and his mother are grieving her loss in two different ways and because of his mother’s lack of presence, he has to take care of them both. I definitely understood Shane’s motivations regarding the suicide of his sister, despite being in love with David, they hide their relationship and the only support he gets is from Tara. There were several times when I wanted to shake Shane and David for different reasons, but it was clear that Shane, in particular, was not comfortable being vulnerable or expressing himself emotionally. As a result, he does many, many stupid things.
This book also focused heavily on the struggle Shane had to deal with leaving the reservation for Toronto. I am not Native. Anything I know about reservations comes from Native authors I’ve read, but it’s made clear that there isn’t anything for Shane on the reservation. He is desperate to leave despite David wanting him to stay. His options are limited to drug dealing if he stays and the potential opportunity to have a career if he leaves. It seems like the choice should be simple, but Shane struggles financially when his education is supposed to be paid for. Throughout the book, he is at a crossroads with his future and with his relationships and it’s interesting to see the choices he makes when he no longer has time to dwell on them.
I want more people to read this book. I think it’s very important to read books from perspectives other than ours and see how others struggle with things we take for granted. We desperately need more diversity in queer lit, especially in YA, and so I hand you this book on a platter.