You Won't be Able to Put This Down
Strangers by David A. Robertson published by Highwater Press is an incredible tale and the first in The Reckoner series.
I could not put this book down. It haunted me when I was not reading. I had to know the story of Wounded Sky First Nation and Cole Harper. Cole left Wounded Sky after a grave accident. After losing both his father and mother, his Grandmother and his aunt moved him to Winnipeg to get away and keep him safe. When Cole receives urgent and somewhat mysterious text messages from an old friend back in Wounded Sky, he is compelled to go back home, against his aunt’s wishes. When he arrives, he doesn’t exactly get a warm and fuzzy welcome. While some believe Cole is a hero, many are resentful and hurt by Cole’s actions 10 years ago. When people begin to fall gravely ill upon Cole’s arrival back in Wounded Sky and others end up dead after their interactions with him, Cole sets out on a mission to figure out what is happening and help his people once again.
This was one of those books I could not put down. You know those books where you completely lose yourself in the story, ignoring the world around you. Fortunately, The Bear and The Bee were able to entertain themselves for just about an entire day while I strode off to Wounded Sky and fully immersed myself in Cole’s story. I am just itching for the next installment. I can only think of a handful of times where I have had to wait for the next installments in a series and cannot stop dreaming about what is to come. I need to know what happens to Cole and Wounded Sky First Nation, how all the different mysteries that arose during Strangers conclude. What was happening at the research facility? Who started the school fire? How did Cole’s father die and why? There are so many questions David A. Roberston leaves open. We can certainly make inferences and predictions but I have a feeling this story could go just about anywhere. With the story being quite intense, I loved the character of Choch. He adds much appreciated humour and asides. He also provides a vehicle in the story to learn more about the importance of oral culture and the stories of Cree and other First Nations mythology. Strangers is an incredibly important Own Voices story to add to the growing list of stories written by First Nations people. These stories reflect their experiences and their truths and provide a richness to the children’s literature landscape that was not available only a few short years ago. Own Voices stories lead to more learning. While reading I found myself wanting to know more about the story of Coyote or Wisakedjak to the Cree people. I wanted first to make sure that anything I wrote here was accurate but I was also curious about the stories. I love folktales and oral storytelling and know after reading Strangers and what will be the two follow up books in the series, I will seek out opportunities to hear Cree, Anishnabee, Métis, and other First Nation storytellers.