Book: REZ REBEL
Author: Melanie Florence
TW: Suicide, depression, alcoholism
I received an eARC of REZ REBEL by Melanie Florence from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Floyd Twofeathers has always trusted his mom, a traditional healer, and his dad, hereditary chief of their band, to take care of the people on their reserve. But a lack of educational and career opportunities, medical support and counselling has left young people feeling that they have no future. As suicides pile up, Floyd finds that his friends and kids he knows are taking their own lives because they feel that they have no future — but his father refuses to listen to Floyd’s attempts to find a realistic solution. When Floyd’s father is overwhelmed by the situation and succumbs to alcohol and depression, it is up to Floyd to turn around his community’s descent into crisis before it’s too late.
Set in a situation of suicide contagion among young people in Aboriginal communities, this novel follows one teenager’s determined efforts to help his friends and his community find solutions.
While Florence’s writing style is very plain, the topic of the book was a hard read for me. Floyd Twofeathers lives on a reservation where suicide has reached a near epidemic level. While this is a fictional story, the overwhelming amount of suicide and depression in Native and Indigenous communities is not. Native youths commit suicide at 3 times the national average- some reservations even see suicide rates at 10 times the national average.
Florence explores this and the impact these deaths are having on the community. She also highlights the importance of language and culture in combating depression and suicide in Native communities.
This is a coming of age tale about a boy who would do anything for his people and steps into the role of protector for everyone who needs him.