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3.63  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Hawk, a First Nations teen from northern Alberta, is a cross-country runner who aims to win gold in an upcoming competition between all the schools in Fort McMurray. But when Hawk discovers he has leukemia, his identity as a star athlete is stripped away, along with his muscles and energy. When he finds an osprey, “a fish hawk,” mired in a pond of toxic residue from the oi ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published December 5th 2015 by Dundurn Press (first published December 1st 2015)
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Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

Read all my reviews on

Adam, also know as Hawk, finds an osprey, a fish hawk, in a pond polluted by the oil industry which is ever present in Northern Alberta. When he's diagnosed with leukaemia, which may or may not be caused by the same oil industry, Hawk and the osprey link together in their battle to survive.

I find it difficult to really place this novel in the right age category. At times I was thinking YA, but mostly I would have said it was fo
Katie N
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, arcs, diversity, 2016
This book is a tough one to review. I feel like the topic is one that isn't discussed much. Anything that sheds light on the oil sands and what they are doing to our environment is very important. It is a good introduction to a topic that many might not know too much about.

There are moments in the book when the characters are discussing things and facts become more important than natural conversation. This gives the book stilted feel and takes the reader out of the story. The story did get smoo
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This a beautifully written story of self-discovery and awakening. A young Dene teen is diagnosed with Lukemia and has to learn how to survive while learning, at the same time, how the land is dying around him.
Note: I received an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Adam, also known as Hawk, realizes that many things he has taken for granted, are not so, including his health and the truth about the harmful impact the oil industry is having on people and the environment. Adam fights a hard battle against leukemia, while a pair of fish hawks fight their own battle to breed and continue life.

Despite dealing with many extremely sensitive issues, Jennifer Dance's writing style keeps the nov
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I personally really liked this book. I felt as if the story wasn't too cheesy or cliche and that the ending keeps us wondering. Jennifer Dance also did an amazing job by raising awareness about the problems faced by Aboriginal people while still writing an interesting and exciting story. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books that leave you thinking and to anyone who wants to learn about the problems that arise in nature because of humankind's decisions.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
takes a while to get into, but good story
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Red Maple nominee
Ben Reffell
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: red-maple-2017
Hawk is an environmental/illness story that bored me half to death.

The novel is narrated by a First Nations high schooler with leukaemia, and the entire story stems off that idea.

Firstly, I just need to blow off some steam. This was a very weird reading experience for me. My feelings varied from kind-of interested to oh-my-god-this-is-so-boring.

It’s not a bad concept, but the way it’s pulled off is just... no.

As I mentioned before, our protagonist, Adam, gets diagnosed with cancer. This plotlin
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Hawk" is an eye-opening duel story of a First Nations teen who is diagnosed with leukemia paralleled to a pair of native fish hawks to who have trouble surviving in the urbanized wilderness of Alberta. The book which is formatted in a duel narration (Adam and the fish hawk) talks about several sensitive issues in society we often don't highlight such as the effects of the oil industry on the environment and the implications they had on First Nations.

As Adam (a.k.a. Hawk) comes in and out of tr
Mrs. Smith
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't know if it was the author's back story a sad story of racism and prejudice that helped her champion the rights of those without a voice but I really really enjoyed this book. The author is not native and yet her passion for injustice against Native Americans makes you think she is. The book itself is a story of hope not just a rant of why we must change things. She weaves the human side to an argument of environmentalism and the effects our toxic lifestyles are having on ecology in gener ...more
This is a middle-grade contemporary fiction novel told from the point of view of a First Nation's boy who has been diagnosed with leukemia. The story parallels his cancer with the negative environmental impacts of the tar sands mining in Canada. This is a quick read that tells an incredibly important story. Adam, or Hawk, learns about the impacts of the mining and ties it into with his own leukemia. Dance shows that communities are caught in a Catch-22, where the only jobs are provided by the mi ...more
Isabelle Li
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Dance’s Hawk was an amazing and influential book to read. I enjoyed every aspect of the story, especially the storyline and how it connected the lives of both man and animal. It was also very sad and eye-opening, with the realization of how much worse the lives of the First Nations people living on Canada’s reserves are compared to the rest of us fortunate enough to be from a different ancestry, and the ridicule and hardships they have to face every single day. In addition to this, it a ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hawk is the dual story of Adam, a First Nations teen, and a pair of mating fish hawks named Three Talons and White Chest. Adam has been recently diagnosed with leukemia and is struggling with accepting the changes that it will bring to his life. Three Talons and White Chest are struggling to live in what is left of their mating area which is in the center of the oil sands in Alberta. Readers will see the effects of the mining on the land, on the animals and on people. Jennifer Dance's voice is v ...more
Tanya Mo
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's in the top 3 of the 2018 red maple nominees. In addition to being a good story, it made me think about the bigger picture and the impact of my daily choices on Mother Earth as well as the injustices experienced by indigenous peoples.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book does a great job of telling us of problems that has a large affect on our world today. The characters are also great and I love that Adam has a connection from his lukimia to all those largely affected by the oil sands industry. I also learned about the Fishhawk.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A sad but AWESOME story!!!!!!!!!
Aidan Copeland
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shows a really good example of things that occur with oil spills and the similarity’s between a hawk and a human
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hawk is a great book that brings awareness to problems the environment and living beings are facing in our modern lifestyle.
Jane Warren
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fabulously real book for any age to read...heart rending in places but hope lives on for the boy and the fish Hawk. Truly uplifting.
Margaret Bryant
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great exploration on the effects that the oil sands industry has on First Nations and animals living along the Athabasca River.
Adam, called Hawk by his grandfather, fights leukemia. His story is paralleled by the struggles of two osprey as they try to hatch and raise chicks. The connection between the two stories is the poison that runs through each of their bodies. Poison caused by the oil industry in Northern Alberta.

I liked the emotional struggle that Hawk went through, but at times, I found the story line too cliche. There was the oh so predictable relationship with the girl Hawk found attractive. There was the stru
Carol Lance
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hawk by Jennifer Dance.

Adam, a First Nations teen, Adam has been recently diagnosed with leukemia and is struggling with accepting the changes that it will bring to his life. Having given up his ancestry for the finer things in life, Adam now must look back and find the answers he is looking for. There is a reason his grandfather always called him hawk.

A pair of mating fish hawks named Three Talons and White Chest. Three Talons and White Chest are struggling to live in what is left of their mati
Mrs. Smith
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Despite being about a teen with cancer, family dysfunction, and irreversible environmental damage the book was surprisingly hopeful. Perhaps it's because I read the author's bio and saw how she drew on personal pain to create a story based on the truth of real life events that are troubling but the book left me hopeful not distraught. Many books cover difficult topics and either leave you feeling sad and depressed or with a cinderella ending that promotes unrealistic expectations. This book does ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book has an important topic...the Alberta oil sands and their effect on the environment, and on the people who live in that region. It follows a boy’s struggle with leukaemia, and how the oil sands probably contributed to his illness, but lectures continually about the problem. It’s less a narrative and more like a presentation. The preachiness needs to be smoothed out into more natural sounding conversations.

There are a lot of other i didn’t like, and I was glad when the book was done, so
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Coming from a person who just recently got interested in books this was a nice quick one to read. It had an empowering message about the First Nations and how unfairly Canada (and the rest of the world, but only Canada in this book) has treated them. I found a few parts that were seemingly trying to be relevant to a 14-year-old boy but it was fine. Good message, pretty well written, fast paced book, and nice topics.
7/10 for writing
9/10 for relevancy and topics
5/10 for accuracy of a young teens
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps one of my favourite reads from this year's Red Maple nominees. A great story...chapter 26 nearly killed me I cried so much. A really great YA read that highlights environmental issues in Canada and their effect on First Nations communities.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the beginning of this book, I found it hard to continue reading, because it just really didn't interest me. But later on, in the middle of the book, the story got more and more interesting and I couldn't stop reading.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read and adored Red Wolf a couple years ago and I was excited to read more of this authors work! However, this book was really, really slow for me. I just couldn’t get hooked. Things were better in the last 100 pages or so, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the book’s overall blandness.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this read, and I think the topic it deals with is something we should all be more aware of; the oil sands in Alberta. I loved that we also got the point of view of the hawk, white chest! Overall would recommend this book!
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
A fantastic perspective on how land is used and how we are connected to the land in ways that we don't often see or think about. A bit heavy-handed at times, but a thoughtful exploration of what the oil industry means to several different groups of people.
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"With Red Wolf, Jennifer Dance has come howling out of the wilderness...and I'm deeply impressed."


Jennifer Dance is a Canadian author and playwright who is passionate about justice and equality for all people. She has experienced first-hand where racism can lead. Looking back, sh
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