Surviving the City

by Tasha Spillett-Sumner

Paperback, 2018




HighWater Press (2018), Edition: 1, 56 pages


"Tasha Spillet's graphic-novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, resilience, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan's Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape - they're so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez's grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can't stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can't bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez's community find her before it's too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don't? Colonialism and the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People are explored in Natasha Donovan's beautiful illustrations."--… (more)


½ (31 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member villemezbrown
An important attempt to draw attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic in Canada.

The writing has some shortcomings, leaving things like berry fasts and smudging unexplained for ignorant readers like myself, ending in an abrupt and muddled manner, and having an afterword that
Show More
may have been more useful as an introduction. Mostly, at 54 pages it just felt too short to do the subject justice.

What I did find effective was the presence of the spirits of female ancestors providing unseen support to the teenage girls at the center fo the story and the personification of the male gaze and sexual harassment as tall grey aliens looming behind the men who watch and approach the girls.

And in the end, it did cause me to google a bunch of stuff tonight, so my curiosity has been piqued and my awareness has been raised some.
Show Less
LibraryThing member eo206
A friend suggested this for my summer reading BINGO board. I needed a book by an author from Canada and mentioned I've been reading a lot of teen/YA and graphic novels. I'm glad it was suggested, the book tells a delicate and important story that many more people need to know about. I've read a lot
Show More
of news articles and followed the MMIW movement, and this book brings an important voice to the topic and a way to introduce it to younger people. I shared parts of it with my primary school age kid and he asked thoughtful questions.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Miikwan and Dez are best friends, indigenous girls who practice their traditions and live in the city. Miikwan's mother was among one of the missing and murdered women, girls and two-spirit people, and this dark reality haunts the backdrop of the girls' lives. When Dez doesn't return home after
Show More
learning she can't live with her sick kokum (grandmother) anymore, Miikwan fears the worst. A welcome publication of a topical work.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JesseTheK
Colorful loose drawings where most characters are twinned with ghostly relations. Big emotional heft.
LibraryThing member reader1009
diverse teen/adult graphic novel (First Nations/indigenous women being kidnapped/murdered in Canada)
I'd heard about the Highway of Tears but the problem is even more prevalent than that. Similar to U.S. news outlets not making a fuss when the missing girls are black, the disappearances of
Show More
indigenous women in Canada also do not get the attention they should, and because of that the cycle continues and worsens.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jennybeast
Great short work shining a spotlight on MMIW. Really well done.
LibraryThing member fionaanne
It ended far too abruptly and I would have liked to see the story more fleshed-out. I've just noticed there's a number 2 so the series will likely remedy these issues but I dislike being given the story piecemeal.


Red Maple Award (Nominee — Fiction — 2020)
Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards (Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book — 2019)
American Indian Youth Literature Award (Honor Book — Young Adult — 2020)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

10 inches


1553797566 / 9781553797562
Page: 0.7753 seconds