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I Can Make This Promise

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,261 ratings  ·  278 reviews
Inspired by her family’s history—Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets—and finds her own Native American identity.

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn’t have any answers.

Until the day when she and
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by HarperCollins
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Lara Vehar Yes. There are several letters and postcards typed word for word in the book.
Lara Vehar The theme is learning about Native American heritage and what they had to endure in the past pretty much. It's about a kid finding more about her past…moreThe theme is learning about Native American heritage and what they had to endure in the past pretty much. It's about a kid finding more about her past pretty much and her parents telling her that - that's the main theme anyways, there are also some side stories but they aren't as important. (less)

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Middle grade literature can too often become heavily reliant on a number of well-worn tropes. For example, this year (2019) we’ve been seeing a slew of books where the mom is dead and the daughter has to essentially care for her grief-stricken father. But this literature isn’t just limited to dead moms. Grief is weighing down the protagonists of 2019 like a heavy blanket. So much so that members of a book committee I serve on have taken to saying, “If nobody’s grieving, then the book wasn’t publ ...more
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book for #vaultathon, but what I do know is that I learned so much. I've always been an advocate for reading diverse books or reading books with Black characters or books written by Black authors, but what I didn't realize is how much I have to learn. It's easy to advocate for you own experiences, yet be so unaware of the experiences of other marginalized groups around you. This book definitely opened my eyes to some of the troubled experie ...more
Laura (bbliophile)
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-releases
This was so good and so important and just, please read this. Please add it to your TBR.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: story-shop-reads
I hope this book makes it onto every school list in existence.

Day creates a realistic middle school world where any reader can see themselves, with the ups & downs of friendships & a dynamic parent-child relationship. With foundations set, we dive into the unique experiences & family history of a Native American child. Day pulls you in with the lovely quirks of Edie’s character & then sets before you the mystery of her namesake. Day approaches both the lovely & the heartbreaking things in a fam
mindful.librarian ☀️
This is the November 2020 middle grade pick for the NEA Read Across America theme of Native American Perspectives. Stellar, essential middle grade read. Can’t wait to read this aloud to 4th & 5th grades!

(Oh, and the picture book pick this month is FRY BREAD - I love this book SO MUCH)
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I Can Make This Promise is a story about identity, family, and friendship. It takes our universal question about wondering where we are from, what our origins are, and sets it in the discovery of a box in the attic. This discovery convinces Edie that someone is lying to her about where her name came from. We always wonder about names. Where our names come from, and Edie's discover
I picked this up because it was a honor book for the 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Award's and we had it available at my library (literally all I did was walk upstairs and grab it off the shelf). I read it during my lunch break over a span of two days and after finishing it I must say that this was an amazing story and I can see why it was nominated. I really wish we had more diverse stories like this when I was in middle school about Native American tribal nations and the various real-w ...more
Ari Reavis
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it
I loved this book about finding home when you didn't know where home was. It made me cry, laugh, aww, and taught me about many different things, which is something that always excites me in a book.
Edie finds a box in the attic that holds secrets she never even knew she didn't know. What unfolds is growth, a finding of hard truths, and a tragic story. I especially liked how vivid the descriptions were, whether of the places Edie went in the book, or the drawings she made throughout the story.
Jen Petro-Roy
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, middle-grade, arc, 2019
So, so good.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lovely, poignant, IMPORTANT book.
Cristina Quattrone
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book will make your heart swell. Easily accessible prose for elementary, but still filled with beautiful imagery and figurative language. Centering an indigenous experience in modern times, while still giving backstory to depiction of Native Americans in films and the emotional impact of removing Native American children from their families. Plus some truly tear-jerking coming-of-age moments. So good.
This novel is set in the Seattle area - the main character is a middle school aged girl whose mother is a Native American adoptee who has no contact with her birth family. The main character, Edith, finds a memento from her mother's past that sets her off exploring the Native side of her family. It's lovely and asks big, sometimes painful questions but with a gentle enough touch for younger readers. 

I read this book in almost one sitting.

I loved it.

Highly recommended.
Christine (TheOtherChristineThatReads) McMillan
This was a wonderful story. I love that it’s middle grade. When I have children someday, this is a story I will read to them.
Cheriee Weichel
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigenous
While searching the attic Edie and her friends discover a secret box. Inside it are photographs and letters from someone named Edith who looks a lot like Edie. Edie attempts to surreptitiously get her parents to reveal more about how she got her name and who this other Edie is, but they remain silent until she confronts them straight on.
All this happens against a backdrop of realistic friendship drama.

As Edie learns about her Native American heritage, we discover that a government agent took h
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Edie is a bright, creative twelve year old girl that harbors a secret question she's ready to find answers for... "Where am I from?" She knows she's Native American, but her mother was adopted by a white family-- and she's always shied away from telling Edie about their cultural heritage. When Edie discovers a memory box of photos and letters from her namesake, Edith Graham, she's determined to learn her truth. A glorious novel of emerging identity, friendships, and many kinds of family. I was g ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-middle-grade
I won a copy from the publisher; this did not influence my review.

Day brings an important aspect of Native history to light in this middle grade book. My daughter and I both read and enjoyed it, but I wish it hadn't been set up as a mystery. We both figured the "mystery" out rather quickly and it made much of the book feel like a waiting game. I had hoped for more of a sense of Native culture from the book as well, but we both enjoyed the characters and setting of this debut novel.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This touching and heartbreaking book explores changing friendships, family secrets, and the devastating outcome of our government’s cruel and inhuman policy of separating Native children from their families.
The first thing I want to say is that I listened to the audiobook which may have brought my rating down. Everybody in my house found it very annoying because for some reason, and I don't know if this is the narrator's fault or if it's the fault of the producer, but she has very annoying pauses and very odd intonations, etc, not just for a child, but for anyone from Washington State, or, indeed, anyone I have ever heard speak anywhere. But 3 stars is a like and I give out MANY 3 stars, so it's no ...more
Shaye Miller
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive
This is a debut middle grade novel about a young girl named Edie who is desperate to learn more about her Native American heritage. She knows her mother was adopted when she was a baby, but her mom will not share anything about her family of origin. One day, Edie and two friends are rummaging around in her attic when they find a box of letters with a photo of a woman who looks nearly identical to Edie. Furthermore, they discover the woman's name is Edith! Prepare yourself for a journey of self-d ...more
Ally Doerman
Edie’s family is very small. All she has is her mother and father, and her mother’s brother, Uncle Phil. Edie has spent her whole life being asked where’s she’s from and then confusing people when she says “Seattle.” Edie’s mother was adopted as a baby by the Millers, your average white family. Being raised with no knowledge of her Native American roots, Edie’s mother has always felt like an outsider and leaving Edie with so many questions about her ancestors. When Edie and her friends are searc ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Edie knows that her mother was adopted by a white couple, but the only thing she knows about her mother’s background is that she is Native American. Her mother won’t talk about her childhood at all. While looking in the attic with her friends, Edie discovers a box of old photographs and documents with a woman who looks a lot like her and has the same name! As Edie explores the documents, she realizes that her parents have been lying to her for her entire life. Even when she tries to give them a ...more
Jessica Woodbury
There is definitely a disconnect between the pitch of this book and the actual book. (During the epilogue one of my kids said, "Oh so THAT'S the promise, I kept wondering what the promise was," and she's not wrong.) By making Edie's heritage a mystery, the book saves the thing it's actually about for the very very end, which is a weird choice. For Edie, she doesn't even connect the mystery to her mother or her Native identity until we are closing in on the ending. On the bright side, that does m ...more
Allison Sirovy
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m trying to put into words how this book affected me. First off, Edie and her mom’s story is one of love, and it’s clear throughout the book. Secondly, I’m angry. Angry at how our government stole lives from Native Americans, in so many ways, and we as White Americans mostly know nothing about this. (You’ll see what I’m talking about when you read the book.) I’m saddened by all that continues to go on in our country (and world - Uighurs in China as one example) against basic humanity. How does ...more
Laura Beam
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book! The end had me sobbing and the story was beautifully rendered. The book deals with the ripple affects of native and indigenous children being separated from their families and communities from the 1940s-1970s (and probably before). All up until the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which I am ashamed to say - I did not know about before the reading of this book. This book is so important for children of all backgrounds to read, as it brings to light many important ...more
Kris Dersch
Love it. Love it love it love it.
It's hard to write a book. It's hard to write a middle grade book. It's hard to write a middle grade book with believable characters that is true to the pain and struggle of that time of life without coming off as patronizing or trite.
To do all of that and then ALSO to have your main character exploring some family history from half a century ago AND to have that family history be believable, compelling, page turning, and real as well? That's huge.
This novel does
If you like introspective #ownvoices middle grade, I recommend this! A mysterious box in an attic takes Edie on a ride to discover more about her family and her Native American ancestry. I really liked the grown-ups in this book, especially the mom. I liked how we read letters over time to get to know the mysterious woman from Edie's past and I liked that real historical events/laws influenced this novel. There is some friendship drama here and the main character also has a cool hobby (drawing & ...more
Shauna Yusko
This is fantastic.

I struggle a little with best audience and I’m still thinking on that. Would be great for middle school if the character wasn’t 12 and didn’t act younger.

But the subject could really be best served in middle school.

It’s a quiet gem and a must read.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable middle-grade debut by an #ownvoices Indigenous author that tackles heavy topics in an accessible, age-appropriate way. It is an uplifting and heartwarming tribute to cultural resilience, family ties (biological and chosen), and true friendship. Highly recommended for classroom use as a corrective to units about Indian history that erase present-day people.
Audrey Kammerer
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story got me. There was something choppy about the writing style, but the story was so compelling that I stopped noticing. Edie’s relationships felt real and relatable. Readers get information about a tragic period in history through a personal narrative.
Mary Lee
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story of changing friendships, but also an #ownvoices story of identity. What if your mother was stolen at birth? How would you know what to think of your Native heritage?
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Play Book Tag: [Poll Book Tally] I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day 3+ stars 1 6 Oct 05, 2020 01:40PM  
Vault-a-thon: Sunday: Chapter 31-End 1 2 Jun 11, 2020 04:31PM  
Vault-a-thon: Saturday: Chapter 26-30 1 1 Jun 11, 2020 04:29PM  
Vault-a-thon: Friday: Chapter 21-25 1 1 Jun 11, 2020 04:27PM  
Vault-a-thon: Thursday: Chapters 16-20 1 1 Jun 11, 2020 04:25PM  
Vault-a-thon: Wednesday: Chapters 11-15 1 1 Jun 11, 2020 04:23PM  
Vault-a-thon: Tuesday: Chapters 5-10 1 2 Jun 11, 2020 04:20PM  

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Christine Day (Upper Skagit) grew up in Seattle, nestled between the sea, the mountains, and the pages of her favorite books. Her debut novel, I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE (Harper), was a best book of the year from Kirkus, School Library Journal, NPR, and the Chicago Public Library, as well as a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book, and an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. Her second novel, ...more

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    Pulitzer Prize–winning literary critic Michiko Kakutani, the former chief book critic of The New York Times, is the author of the newly...
51 likes · 15 comments
“father took me out to the Seafair Powwow in Discovery Park.” Their gazes meet, and both of my parents seem to soften. They’re still so in love, it actually disgusts me sometimes. “I’d never been to a powwow before,” she says. “But he didn’t know that. We were still just getting to know each other. And although he knew I was Native American, he didn’t know much about the adoption, or my general disconnection” 0 likes
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