In this complex and emotionally resonant novel about a Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.
Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice-cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.
But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.
While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.
The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.
Ferguson's sweetly complex debut centers demisexual M tis Louisa "Lou" Norquay, 18, via an extended ice cream metaphor about life on the Canadian prairie. After Lou's mother leaves to sell her beadwork at powwows, Lou's white biological father is released from prison and returns, having served a sentence for the violent sexual assault of Lou's mother when she was 16. Lou has also just broken up with her aggressive white boyfriend Wyatt, with whom she still has to work at her uncles' ice cream shop. When her former best friend, King, also returns, her feelings for him initiate a realization that Lou "can't have sex with him. With anyone." And just when she thinks things can't get more difficult, her uncles' business ends up at risk, and her father's insistence on making contact takes an even more insidious turn. In a layered first-person portrayal of a young Indigenous woman navigating the edge of adulthood, Ferguson (who is M tis and white) tackles necessary issues of identity and sexuality alongside colonialism, generational trauma, racism, physical and sexual assault, and substance reliance through well-wrought, complicated characterizations and prose that sings with poetry: "Summer arrives to the prairies slow and stays for such a short time." Ages 13 up. Agent: Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary.