synopsis: “More than sixteen years have passed since the initial publication of In Search of April Raintree. Because it has been used as teaching text in junior and senior high schools and for university-level undergraduate and graduate courses in literature, women’s studies, and Native studies, the story is well known. Due to their parents’ alcohol abuse, Cheryl and April Raintree, two Metis sisters growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, are separated from each other and their family. Life in a variety of foster homes is typified by neglect, ill treatment, and shame at their Native heritage. Throughout much of the narrative, Cheryl maintains pride in her ancestry, but early on, April decides to deny her Native self as much as is possible. Over the years, distance develops between the two sisters. April’s marriage to a wealthy white man offers a glamorous life in Toronto and financial comfort but emotional impoverishment. Divorcing her husband brings April temporary freedom and the opportunity to repair the breach which has developed between her and Cheryl. But Cheryl’s pride has failed to sustain her; now a prostitute and alcoholic, she is not the sister April remembered. And, in a central and horrific accident of mistaken identity, April is confused with Cheryl and is brutally raped by a gang of young white men. She survives, but Cheryl does not, and the book ends with April’s commitment to raise Cheryl’s son with the pride and stability her sister could not provide. April’s search for self is over, and her life begins anew.”
- foster care – obviously.
- alcoholism – her parents had alcohol issues, which Cheryl later developed, and April had to live with the consequences of this – it affected her whole life
- sex work/sex shaming – the two girls had stereotypes projected onto them about their sexuality and worth from their first foster home due to the fact that they were Native, and while April resisted this classification and was constantly on the watch for acting too ‘easy,’ Cheryl fell into an angry trap of thinking of herself not-worthy and using both alcoholic and sex work as a means of escape
- interracial love, or lack there-of: April tries to have a relationship with an affluent white male, whose mother disapproves. The mother does not want a dark skinned grand baby, and with April being Metis, it could go either way.
- “I can’t accept… I can’t accept being Métis. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever said to you, Cheryl. And I’m glad you don’t feel the same way I do. I’m so proud of what you’re trying to do” (101)
- “Yeah, but the Indian blood runs through your veins, April. To deny that, you deny a basic part of yourself. You’ll never be satisfied until you can accept that fact” (152)
- “He smiled, the same kind of smile I had seen a long time ago before on his mother’s face when she was that age, the age of innocence” (207)
buy the book: In Search of April Raintree