I Can Make This Promise
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 her friends discover a box hidden in the attic—a box full of letters signed “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks just like her.
Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?
Edie is spending a lot of time with her friends with whom she is making a film for a contest. They plan to do an animated film, and Edie has an idea for it to be about a dog (because she is not very good at drawing people and dog movies are very popular). When they find the box, one of her friends, Amelia, says she should keep it a secret, while Serenity suggests she should talk with her parents. Amelia also wants to make the movie be about Edith, but Edie is uncomfortable about the idea.
While Edie is grappling with the idea of the box and her heritage, she is also dealing with Amelia and her new friendship with a girl who is often mean to Edie, making fun of her name and looks. Edie is navigating these social situations at the same time as she is evaluating whether she can trust the parents that kept knowledge about Edith from her.
What I loved: The book is a solid read, with a pace that is even all the way through. The ultimate issue at the heart of it is one that needs more attention, and this book is a great way to teach young children about it. While laws have changed about removing Native American children from families, this is not ancient history and still somewhat a problem today. Books like this help educate and bring awareness to these issues.
This book was also just a great story about parents being human and keeping things from children because they want the best for them- a common theme for many kids. The resolution is about talking to parents, and not trying to keep it from them, and I think this sends a great message.
The addition of dealing with evolving friendships is also a common one as children grow up and enter adolescence, and I think the message at the end about choosing friends who are kind and empathetic is ultimately good.
What left me wanting more: As a small point, I would have liked some more resolution to the conflicts and to know how their video did in the contest (though I guess the main point was the video itself, not the prize).
Final verdict: I CAN MAKE THIS PROMISE is an engaging and thoughtful contemporary middle grade that tackles some important issues. Highly recommend for this age group (and even those outside of it). This is a really poignant story that speaks beautifully to the reader.