What it is: My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling is a semi-autobiographical book about a young aboriginal girl who is sent to Kalamak Indian Residential School as part of the government’s attempts to assimilate native children into white culture. The book takes a diary format and follows Seepeetza’s time at school and on her family’s ranch.
What I liked about it: Aboriginal culture is so interesting to me, and I find it so tragic that the government forcibly stripped away that culture. The brainwashing and cruelty that Seepeetza experiences at school was both saddening and intriguing to read about. While it’s definitely a quick read (less than 200 pages, with lots of white space and language directed towards preteens), it doesn’t lack depth or gravity.
What I didn’t like about it: My only qualm is that it could’ve been longer or followed Seepeetza over more time instead of just one school year plus a summer, but otherwise I thought the book was excellent.
Memorable quote: “Sometimes I look out the dorm window at the Tomas River and I wish I could hide under the water and never come out. I look at the stars at night and wish I could travel a million miles into outer space and never come back.”
Overall rating: 5/5 stars.
Challenge satisfied: #9, read a book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (in this case, both the author and protagonist were from aboriginal cultures in Canada).
Additional notes: Because of the seriousness of the topic, this book will interest adults, but it’s written for children in 4th-7th grades, so it’s a great option for younger readers who like historical fiction.
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