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The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel
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The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,751 ratings  ·  340 reviews
In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.

Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. One night, Pete
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 2nd 2015 by House of Anansi Press (first published April 25th 2015)
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Meika If you live in Vancouver you can purchase the book from Spartacus Books.

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  1,751 ratings  ·  340 reviews

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Jan Philipzig
Personal, heartfelt, authentic, painful, unflinching, accessible, eye-opening, stark, infuriating, clear-headed, sincere, wise, spirited, empowering, transcending, important. It’s the kind of story at least everybody living in North America should have heard and watched and read many times before, yet strangely most of us never have. Essential reading.
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing graphic novel, I loved it so much. I recently joined a book club called White Pine and there are 10 books we have to read or should read and we vote which one is the best at the end of the year. This is the first book I read from that book club and I was so glad that I picked it up! It was really unique and it's been a long time sine I read a graphic novel.

While I was reading the book, I was like:

This book made me understand that there are many different reasons of why peo
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-borrowed
A hard hitting graphic novel set in Alberta, "The Outside Circle" illustrates the effects of decades of colonial policies on the indigenous people of Canada. This book was strongly recommended by a fellow educator and I have added it to my classroom library. I felt that the author takes the historical impact of government policies in a way that will be easy for reluctant readers to understand. There is some strong language, but please do not let that deter any reader-teacher or high school stude ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A timely book considering the state of Canada's current treatment of its aboriginals (and really all non-christian groups). The book is concerned with the historical treatment of aboriginals and has a lot of background information about how the European leaders destroyed aboriginal culture in an attempt to assimilate aboriginals into the Christian way of life (the norm). (I recall thst C.S. Lewis had to explain in an essay that 'Christian' is not synonymous with 'good person')

The book sheds ligh
Joce (squibblesreads)
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Highly, highly recommended!

The Outside Circle is a poignant exploration of the treatment of Aboriginal men and their incarceration, presented in an approachable graphic novel format. We so rarely see issues that the Aboriginal community faces in fiction that provides a lens of a wide and carefully researched worldview, but with this work, Patti Laboucane-Benson did just that. She has a PhD in human ecology, with a concentration in Aboriginal Family Resilience and that came to the forefront when
Chihoe Ho
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Many of the graphic novels I've read have turned out to be fun, light reads that have transported me to a different world and time. Sure, they may include some hard-hitting social issues and personal struggles beneath the narrative layers and illustrated frames, but never have they made me as uncomfortable in the reading process as "The Outside Circle" had. And when I say uncomfortable, I say it in the most respectful way. This graphic novel brings us, as Canadians, face front with something ver ...more
Wow I've been reading a lot of great 5 star reads lately, this book included! Beautifully told and illustrated book about a young indigenous man in Edmonton healing from violence and colonization. It's got a lot of tough stuff in it but the overall tone is hopeful and healing. It made me cry. Highly recommended! ...more
Yannick Serres
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Outside Circle was a first for me. I mean, I had never tried a graphic novel before. Even without having tried anything else, I can tell that this one was a real succes. The pictures, the story, the characters, everything was just perfect.

Pete had a hard childhood. When being asked to draw his biological tree, he can only write down his mother and his brother. Drugs, physical abuses, gangs, that's what his life was made of. What had to happen happened, he found himself in jail after committi
This graphic novel sure packs a punch and even caused me to shed a few tears, something few books have done. However, I am not a fan of graphic novels (this only being my second one if you don’t count Archie comics when I was a kid). I would have preferred to read this as a regular full-length novel to give it even more depth. But as graphic novels go, it was a quick, intense and emotional read that showed us how deep the damage is, the damage that Canada is responsible for in our Aboriginal peo ...more
Elizabeth A
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphix, 2016
In the entire history of humanity, has there ever been a positive story about what happened to the native/indigenous/aboriginal peoples of any land? Sigh.

This graphic novel is targeted at an older teen plus audience, and I think it would make a good introduction for anyone who has not read anything about some of the issues explored here. Set in Canada, this story revolves around two brothers of aboriginal heritage struggling to find their way in the world. I really liked the art and the themes e
Liam Johnstone
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, kiam
I'd heard good reviews of this one, and Kelly, a friend of ours, did the art, so Kim and I decided to pick this up.

I'm getting emotional just trying to figure out what to say about this book. It says a lot of things that I knew peripherally, but it shows you just what "Residential School" means. It's such a powerful book, and I can't imagine it was easy to write.

The art augments the story in surprising ways, really driving home the anger and helplessness that the main character feels.

I could not
Hannah Garden
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh man I just finished this and thought it was so skillful. I wish I could know what some young people in this program think of it coz I am an old lady who is already in love with comics, totally on board with the theory of inherited trauma, and really (these days) getting kind of zealously devoted to a view of art as a healing practice.

The author and illustrator employ, or at least this is how it reads to me, the visual and narrative language of both classic comic-book storytelling style with a
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
*3.75-4/5 stars*

Personally, I know very little about the Aboriginal culture (despite living in Canada); this graphic novel provided lots of information that I wasn't aware, especially the statistics and the fact that the Aboriginal reserves/conflicts are still present today. However, at times I was confused plot-wise and with the terminology used by Aboriginal ceremonies. I also felt the graphic novel was too short, making the story line slightly rushed and under-developed. I love the artwork an
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
It's rare that I give something a five star rating, but this graphic novel deserves it. Patti Laboucane-Benson is a Metis woman who lives in the Edmonton area. She works at the Native Counselling Services of Alberta. This book is excellent because it shows the cycle of poverty, abuse and how residential school impacts the lives of aboriginal people.

The story features two aboriginal brothers, Joey and Pete. Pete ends up in jail and goes through the warrior program, which helps him explore his pa
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Pete is angry and impulsive young man whose actions lead him to jail where that anger is further stoked. His social worker introduces him to a rehab program that uses Aboriginal healing methods. The author is the Director of NCSA (Native Counselling Services of Alberta) and uses Pete's story to show how smudging, sweat lodge, healing circle etc. can lead to understanding and healing of intergenerational trauma. The artwork in black, white and red is well matched to the story. ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fast paced, important, sad and alluring story. Very informative and eye opening.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This was our Thanksgiving book last year, which felt apropos — a nice way to not celebrate colonialism and genocide and so much of what's problematic with American history. Why not take a glance at what's problematic in Canadian history instead, right?

Wait, I don't mean to be glib. This is a devastating glimpse at the absolute horrors done to the Aboriginal Canadians — and not so long ago, either. Some of these evils were still being perpetrated a few short decades ago.

My issue with the book wa
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: turtle-island
Original Review: While the premise of the graphic novel felt a little bit Public Service Announcement, the story and art of The Outside Circle are truly very engaging. Laboucane-Benson's own personal experiences are obviously central to this fictional story, and the transformation of our main character is brave and beautiful.

The art in The Outside Circle was perhaps one of the most surprisingly good aspects for me. I've read a lot of cash in style graphic novels that don't apparently feel like i
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing

As a relative newcomer to the world of graphic novels, I was interested to read The Outside Circle, by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, which follows the story of Pete and Joey, brothers living on the fringe of gang life as First Nations youth in Alberta. And their story isn't an easy one. For a non-First Nations reader the realities of the Indian Acts and residential schools -- and their continued impacts on real people today -- are hard to face, and this novel really doesn't sugar-coat them. Some of th
Lauren Davis
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. Excellent. It is one of the best depictions I know of the human cost of colonialism in Canada, of the generational impacts of the residential school system, poverty, abuse and marginalization. But as important as those facts are, the marvel of this book is how the healing can and should come from the traditions and healing medicine of Indigenous people. How wonderful it would be to have this book as required reading in schools. And, as someone who has spent time teachi ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and honest gaze into another world. People from 12 to 112 could read this book and be enlightened, no matter what their background is.

I loved the lens into manhood in the aboriginal population. It was reminiscent of Richard Wagamese, whose writing I admire and love so much.
Matthew Marcus
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
I finished, The Outside Circle A Graphic Novel by Patti LaBoucane-Benson and it was a really interesting and innovative read, I really liked it. The plot line was really creatively told and took a new spin on telling the missteps of the past and how they affect the future. The art was amazing! It was very thought provoking. The book has a lot of Native American imagery/ really well researched points: talking about the treaties, making the Pete’s mother give up Joey, the taking away native childr ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that everyone needs to read especially Canadians. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has released their final report on the treatment of aboriginals in Canada (i.e. Residential Schools) and the effects which this books explores. An excellently timed read that is both important in the topic is discusses but also stunning to look at. Mellings' art is stellar with amazing panel work and colouring that packs the punch in LaBoucane-Benson's words. Please read it. Work needs to be ...more
Kathy Stinson
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-cnib
I’ve never been drawn to graphic novels, although friends have recommended a few, so when CNIB staff offered me The Outside Circle by Patti Laboucane-Benson and Kelly Melling, my initial impulse was to turn it down, to wait for a book more to my taste in reading. But I was intrigued by its subject matter, and it has proven a most satisfying read — for its character development and its insights into aboriginal rehabilitation programs. It will be a privilege to narrate this book for those who use ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Outside Circle is such an important read, especially for Canadians looking for a fresh outlook of Native studies in Canada. It provides a gripping understanding of the mistreatment of indigenous people while providing a glimmer of hope for generations to come at the same time. The choice of medium (graphic novel) was very well thought out, and I hope it makes it more accessible for people to read. I really hope to see this piece enter our school curriculums to flesh out our knowledge of such ...more
Darcy Roar
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphics, teen
I am really glad we have this book at my library. It's a full color, realistic, graphic novel that talks about poverty, racism, and gangs in Canada. While the focus is on the aboriginal culture helping the main character find his way out of the cycle of violence, the ideas are easily related to other cultures and ethnic groups. There are so many books aout there about living in and trying to leave gangs that they tend to run together in a less than desirable way. This book stands out for it's ex ...more
Tanvir Khan
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's a graphic novel about aboriginals, briefly who they are and who they were how the modern world changed themselves. The symbolism in the book is very deep and I had a great time reading this light novel. Doesn't take too long to finish and can definitely be an eye opener of how the world was and is for First Nation people. Overall, there are many life advice facts in this book and it's delightful to come across them. ...more
Teresa Reid
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A heartwrenching novelization about life as an Aboriginal in Canada. Historically informative as well as beautifully illustrated, it took me awhile to understand the significance of the mask the main character wore in certain situations, but it became clear as the novel went on. Well worth the read, especially for teenagers or adults who don't fully understand the cycle of abuse in Aboriginal Canadian society. ...more
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full of information: Indian Act, Residential Schools, lodges and smudges. Story follows two brothers as they attempt to navigate through the horrors of their childhood and the history of their people.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a powerful story! The heredity of shame, guilt and powerlessness is so acutely shown in this story, through words and graphics.
This story shows the importance of breaking the cycle and finding a way to healing.
Truly a beautiful story.
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Write Reads Podcast: Write Reads #44 The Outside Circle 1 6 Oct 13, 2016 02:54PM  

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Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a Métis woman and the Director of Research, Training, and Communication at Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA). She has been very fortunate to work with the amazing people at NCSA for 20 years!

She has a Ph.D. in Human Ecology, focusing on Aboriginal Family Resilience. Her research focusses on how providing historic trauma healing opportunities for Aboriginalpeop

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