SURVIVING THE CITY by Tasha Spillett, Illustrated by Natasha Donovan, Highwater Press


Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is 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?

approx. 56 pages

Out March 2019


I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book is part of the Debwe Series.  This is a strong graphic novel about friendship, fitting in, survival as an Indigenous person living in a large city, foster care and relationships. There are also glimmers of hope, pain and coping with loss.

This is a duo I haven’t hear of until now. Spillett draws her strength from her Nehiyaw and Trinidadian bloodlines. She is an educator and writer and holds a Vanier Canada Award. Donovan is from Vancouver, British Columbia. She has work published in “The Other Side” anthology and “This Place: 150 Years Retold (2019).  She is also the illustrator of the award-winning children’s book, “The Sockeye Mother.” I reviewed that book Here

The artwork is fantastic, bright, clear and clean–no muddying. The story is a brilliant work of fiction bringing strong issues into the spotlight. I enjoyed this book.

I gave it:


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