A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Native American tribes from Seattle region are mentioned, their roles in history explored. Author's note at end of book names Native American activists, describes their contributions. Here, author also mentions how the tribes were and are affected by U.S. settlements and U.S. government.
Family members can find the real you, even if you feel lost. Support can come from trusted adults who might not be your parents. Trust the people who are genuine. Don't waste time on people who make you feel bad. Your talents can bring you to a higher level. Friendships only work if the people involved are kind to each other. There's wisdom in tradition. Ancestors can be valuable, even if you've never met them.
Positive Role Models
Although Edie's family comes from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, individuals show deep respect toward one another. Her father comes from European origins, his mother, though adopted by a non-Native family, has Native American roots. Edie's Uncle Phil is a trusted adult, who avails himself to her in ways that her parents cannot: He listens to her worries, and she can confide in him. Edie's parents are loving, supportive, open.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Can Make This Promise is a heartfelt story about a family whose connection with its Native American heritage has been disrupted. Family secrets are uncovered, the theme of coerced adoption is brought up, and a glimpse into life on a reservation is briefly explored. Identity is the theme, as people ask the main characters, who have Native American roots, where they are from, "what" they are, telling them how exotic they look. There's some slight bullying among friends.
Is It Any Good?
This beautifully and simply told tale explores the ripple effects of a long-held family secret. Though couched in the rhythms of a loving family's life in modern-day Seattle, the sad truths of the past pierce a tween's life, and her rage at being left out of the unspoken past feels appropriate and proportional.
Inside of this loving, if basic, tale lies some serious truth. As Edie's mom says, "For many years, Native children were forcibly removed from their families and communities." The author, who identifies as the "daughter of a Native American Upper Skagit/Nooksack/Blackfeet/Nez Perce adoptee," is making a point: U.S. history is full of tragic stories of coercion and force. I Can Make This Promise lets this truth rise up subtly in the telling, and kids will appreciate the activist spirit that underlies the story.
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