Spencer, Kim

Weird Rules to Follow

(2) 4-6 Mia, a Tsimshian tween, is growing up in the 1980s in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. She describes not only making giggly prank calls and getting ill-advised perms but also microaggressions and racism. When her best friend Lara's bike goes missing, Lara's father says, "It must have been the Indians." Prejudice cuts both ways; one Native girl criticizes Mia for having white friends. Spencer goes a step further and addresses internalized racism as well: Mia's mom, who is Tsimshian, does not let Mia take thick-cut bologna sandwiches to school--"Only Indians and poor people eat this kind of bologna"--and Mia's aunt tells her cousin "not to marry an Indian." Mia is surrounded by rules that feel "like an order rather than a suggestion" and that come from all sides: her family's traditions; mainstream society's restrictions. But Mia does not allow herself to be limited by other people's "weird rules." She also feels pride in her family and her people, enjoying salmonberry-picking season and attending the All Native Basketball Tournament, for example. The book's chapters are connected bite-sized vignettes, easy to read but poetic and focused. Spencer (Ts'msyen First Nation) specializes in creative nonfiction, and this story, while fiction, rings true.


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