Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
Published by: Hamish Hamilton on October 18th, 2016
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Canada
Summary (from Goodreads): An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School, not realizing just how far away home is. Along the way he’s followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from.
Written by Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author Joseph Boyden and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist Kent Monkman, Wenjack is a powerful and poignant look into the world of a residential school runaway trying to find his way home.”
Review: I don’t know what I was expecting going into this. I saw this book cover every time I walked into Indigo and never bothered picking it up to see what it was about. I just thought the cover looked pretty. Then I was looking on the kobo website looking for books to spend a gift card on and saw that they offered this for $4 and I purchased it still not really knowing what it was about I just saw that it had a great rating on Goodreads.
Like most reviews, I read this book in one sitting. I must have zoned out in elementary school if they taught this because I had no idea it had happened. Or they never taught it in the first place in order to conceal it. This is based on a true story, a real boy named Chanie Wenjack who escaped a residential school and attempted to walk to his home in winter, not knowing it was hundreds of miles away. He died alone far away from his family.
It is told in his perspective as well as Manitous who take on the form of other animals and creatures that watch his escape from the school and struggle to find his way home.
There really isn’t much else to say about this novella, but I highly recommend you read it.