Borders by Thomas King

Cover image for Borders.

Borders by Thomas King, illustrated by Natasha Donovan (9780316593069)

When his older sister decides to move to Salt Lake City, a boy and his mother take her to the border between Canada and the U.S. His mother decided one day to make the trip to Utah to visit. They got dressed up and ready to leave the Blackfoot reserve. When they reached the border though, his mother refused to say that she was Canadian, giving her citizenship as Blackfoot. Caught between two countries, refusing to deny her true citizenship, the boy is caught with her as they demonstrate the power of their identity and family.

Written by an award-winning author of Cherokee and Greek descent, the graphic novel is illustrated by a well-known Métis illustrator. The book insists that readers see Native identity and recognize it as valid in a way that neither country is willing to. The story is immensely uncomfortable as readers wait for a resolution to come along with the boy and his mother. There is a brilliance to this discomfort, allowing readers to sit with it and learn.

The illustrations honest and simple, portraying the love among the family, even when his sister leaves for the United States. The focus on the people allows the illustrations to move beyond the desolate border and into the people being impacted.

An important middle-grade graphic novel that will inspire thought and discussion. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

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