The Outside Circle

Patti LaBoucane-Benson, illus. by Kelly Mellings. House of Anansi (PGW, U.S. dist.; Univ. of Toronto, Canadian dist.), $19.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-77089-937-7
This debut graphic novel, pairing LaBoucane-Benson's words with Mellings's captivating art, take readers into the journey of a young aboriginal man from a life of violence and gangs to healing. The tragic toll Canada's colonial past has taken and still takes on young aboriginal people today is vividly brought to life when readers meet Pete. He's a thug collecting money for a drug dealer, but he is also taking care of his young brother Joey, with no father and a drug-addicted mother. When he comes home to find Joey sitting in an empty apartment, with all their belongings pawned for drug money, a violent confrontation with his mother's abusive boyfriend quickly ends with Pete's arrest, and Joey is placed in foster care. During Pete's incarceration, he is given a chance to transfer to an aboriginal healing centre and to be part of a program that teaches him about aboriginal history and culture. As he begins to find himself and develop an identity tied to a community, the story becomes one of hope, not only for Pete, but for all aboriginal people healing from the intergenerational wounds of Canadian colonialism. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 06/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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