My reader copy of Borders by Thomas King was not finished, therefore, most of my feelings of the book come from an incomplete galley with missing illustrations. I would have liked to see more closely some of the emotions and actions the art of Natasha Donovan would have shown as this would have made the reading a bit smoother. However, I enjoyed this book and will look for it when it comes out to reread it in a completed state.
The artwork is what moves this book as the story is simple: a boy and his mother wish to visit his sister in Salt Lake. However, due to the fact they will not declare American or Canadian citizenship, but Blackfoot, they are denied entry (or reentry) into either country. However, the concept is not as simple as that. While King does not go into deep detail, there is much explored about identity and pride from this family. The narrator is the brother/son of the story. He is early teens, therefore, his memories of his sisters leaving, and his feelings of present time is shaped by this. He is, more mature in some ways then a typical 13-year-old, but still has a bit of innocence to the events and his understanding off his family’s situation.
I was very much focused on the illustrations due to their colors being not overly bold, but strong and the details are not crowded, but give you all you need. You see the landscape, the car, the people, the borders, the places where they spend time and finally visit when they find a way to enter the United States.
This book is not “good or bad” or even really commenting on “right and wrong” but it is what it is. And everyone reading it will find something unique to them and will take away something different because of that. Aimed at ages 10 and up, this book would work well in the classroom setting or people interested in Native histories in the US and Canada.