I Can Make This Promise (Hardcover)
Quill Tree Books, 9780062871992, 272pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
In her debut middle grade novel—inspired by her family’s history—Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets—and finds her own Native American identity.
All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.
Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.
Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?
About the Author
Christine Day (Upper Skagit) is the author of The Sea in Winter and I Can Make This Promise, which was a best book of the year from Kirkus, School Library Journal, NPR, and the Chicago Public Library as well as an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book and a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book.You can visit her online at www.bychristineday.com
Praise For I Can Make This Promise…
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
★ “Beyond the mystery, important themes resonate throughout, including cultural identity and what makes a friendship worth keeping. Day’s affecting novel also considers historical truths about how Native Americans have been treated throughout U.S. history, particularly underlining family separations.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“I Can Make This Promise manages to be both deeply sad and brightly hopeful, and Edie Green will steal readers’ hearts with her empathy and curious spirit—she certainly stole mine.”
— Hayley Chewins, author of The Turnaway Girls
“Day’s novel brings an accessible, much-needed perspective about the very real consequences of Indigenous children being taken from their families and Native Nations. The absence of one’s tribal community, loss of culture and lack of connection to relatives have ripple effects for generations.”
— Traci Sorell (Cherokee Nation), award-winning author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
“A truly enticing, beautifully written story that delivers a historical reveal at just the right time.”
— Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog)
“A glorious novel about friendship, emerging identity, family secrets, and lost culture, Day’s debut, while targeted at 8 to 12-year-olds at grade levels 3 to 7, will resonate with readers of all ages.”
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. After finding the box in the attic, Edie asks her parents, “Why am I Edith?” and “Where did my name come from?” (pg. 49) What is the story behind Edie’s name? By the end of the book, how does she feel about her name?
2. In one of her letters, Edith Graham writes: “I must admit, I’m homesick. It’s lonely being the only Indian woman around.” (p. 143) Do other characters feel lonely throughout this book? Can you identify any patterns or similarities between their moments of loneliness?
3. Over the course of this novel, Edie’s friendships change. Take a moment to reflect on her relationships with Amelia, Serenity, Libby, and Roger. What is the nature of Edie’s relationship with each person? How are these characters significant to Edie’s growth?
4. Who is Bruno? How does Bruno’s journey change and evolve alongside Edie’s? Are there any connections between his story and Edith Graham’s? Are there connections between Bruno and Edie’s mom?
5. How does Edie’s identity as an artist change over the course of the book? What are her main sources of inspiration? Do you think her artwork is influenced by her identity as a biracial Native (Duwamish/Suquamish) girl?
6. What is the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978? Why is this piece of legislature so vital to tribal nations, families, and communities?
7. Why do you think the author chose the title: I Can Make This Promise? What is the main promise Edie makes in this story? How does she fulfill this promise in the book? How might she honor it in the future?
8. Make your own promise. Reflect on the people, places, memories, and experiences that are most important to you. What can you do to fulfill this promise right now? How might you honor your promise in the future?