I was relieved to find that this is a fictional account of the lives of two Metis sisters growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. April and her sister Cheryl have been removed from their parents' home and placed with a series of foster families. By chance, April has a lighter complexion and identifies herself with the white population while Cheryl has a darker complexion and identifies herself with the Metis population.
I was captivated by both girls. I would have welcomed either of them into my family.
I don't fault April for choosing to play on her light colouring, after all, her heritage is part white. I don't walk around with a banner exclaiming all parts of my ethnic make up, so I didn't expect her to do the same. I found it mostly positive the way Cheryl embraced the Metis and how she did her research about them and presented her findings in her various school reports. Without having her parents to provide a sense of identity, she went and found it for herself.
Without unveiling a plot development, I was sad with what happened to April when she returned to Winnipeg to help her sister. It seemed too much to play up to stereotypes, but I suppose that it's also a reality. That in the end it had nothing to do with being Indian, but rather with choices that Cheryl made me accept better that it had to happen for the story to progress as it had.
I cried lots of tears as the story turned back to Cheryl. She had so much hope and she seemed at first to do all the right things. I really wanted her to succeed and do good work at the Friendship Centre and for the Metis people.
I am glad to find that this book has 're-written from the original "In Search of April Raintree" for use in high schools', otherwise I would have kept searching for a copy of the other thinking that it was a sequel or prequel to this one. . It is currently the chosen books for the On the Same Page: Manitoba Reads project. The aim of which is to have 12 000 people read this book prior to April 2009. If you live in Winnipeg and have read the book this year, go to this link and register your read. update: October 24, 2009 - voting is over, though the link takes you to the City of Winnipeg Library website.
Thanks to Beatrice Culleton for creating a book that has provided such a good opportunity for reflection.