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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Trickster Drift

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Author/Publisher/Website: Robinson, E.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: May/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9780735273436
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 10-11
(View recommended grades and subjects) English Language Arts

Resource Description

Seventeen-year-old Jared is clean and sober and has left his home for Vancouver to begin a new life, start college, and escape his family’s destructive and magical lifestyle. But, Jared can’t escape his mother’s vengeful ex-boyfriend and an array of ghosts and spirits who haunt him, and Jared finally realizes that he can’t ignore his true nature. This second book in Robinson’s Trickster trilogy deals with issues of identity, power, the influence of external circumstances, attempting to move on from past choices, and is suitable for a unit study on the themes, to prompt personal writing, and teach about magic realism and descriptive writing in grade 10-12 classes. Social considerations noted.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Communication
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
Comments:
The text shows a young man struggling to accept his identity as a powerful trickster, so the text uses many conventions of Indigenous storytelling and trickster characters. This allows it to connect to many of the Big Ideas of English 10 and 11, including: “The exploration of text and story deepens our understanding of diverse, complex ideas about identity, others, and the world”, and “Texts are socially, culturally, geographically, and historically constructed.” The protagonist’s journey also connects to the Core Competencies of Positive Personal and Cultural Identity, including how strengths can help to meet challenges, as Jared looks to develop new skills, abilities, and strengths.

SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Age:
Many of the adult characters are seen to be unreliable and struggling with their own addictions or past trauma. Now that Jared is clean and sober, his mother's boyfriend finds him suspicious and assumes that Jared is planning on turning them into the cops. His mother also makes continual comments that Jared must look down on them and assume that he's better than them. The adult characters are often the ones who encourage the negative behavior in the younger characters.
Gender Roles, Identity & Sexual Orientation:
Jared's mom makes comments about how Jared should have been a female child because he's overly concerned with his feelings.
Indigenous Peoples:
There are a few characters in the novel who portray the stereotypical Indigenous character who is a violent addict.
Belief System:
As the novel uses Magic Realism there are many instances of supernatural acts in the novel, including: characters who peel off their skin to reveal the wolves that they are underneath; Jared can see monsters living under people's skin; a few characters speak to each other telepathically; Jared can communicate with the dead and fireflies, and often spends time with ghosts, including one ghost who tutors him; there are monsters that come from the walls; at one point Jared leaves his body and needs a ghost to help him return; some of the dead pass through various dimensions that are in his room; Jared turns into a bird and flies away; in Jared's room the walls are alive and can change.
Socio Economic:
Jared is often worried about finding work and maintaining a job in order to avoid the life he sees on the reserve.
Violence:
It is mentioned briefly that Jared's mom's boyfriend has to return home as his mother shot her other son. Jared is attacked various times throughout the novel, including by a girl with a knife who follows him home and threatens him. He is also hit by a car. A later attack is described in detail when Jared is hit with a pipe, assaulted, force-fed vodka, and lit on fire. In the last attack Jared is killed repeatedly by a powerful witch who rips him apart and eats him, only to resurrect him and do it again. To protect himself against these attacks, Jared makes a homemade bomb and uses it to destroy another character's car. This violence is portrayed in an almost cartoon violence manner.
Ethical:
Jared is being stalked by a character, despite the restraining order that is placed against him. At points he simply intimidates and watches, although at other points this becomes violent. Later in the novel Jared is stalked by another character who is trying to use Jared in order to find Jared's father. Jared's mother is a frequent drug user, and her boyfriend is a drug dealer. When he moves in with his aunt in Vancouver, she plans on getting arrested as a form of political protest.
Humour:
Jared is a very sardonic narrator, and often has witty comebacks and insults for other characters. His relationship with his mom is also one that is based on hateful comebacks that are rooted in love. At one point in the novel there are sex jokes made about threesomes.
Safety:
As Jared is being stalked and threatened by several characters, and is haunted by the ghosts and spirits that live in the walls of his aunt's apartment, he rarely feels safe. One character runs away from the retreat center where she is staying, and goes missing for several days. Jared's aunt is described as a very dangerous driver, who often switches lanes while oblivious to the other vehicles on the road.
Language:
There are many instances of cursing, including "douche", "fuck", "shit", "ass" and "dick" (among others), that are used continuously throughout the novel. "Christ" is also used as a curse word at points. At points the characters' text message conversations are recorded in "text speak" such as "u" and other shortened forms of words.
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Extensively
Social Considerations Comments:
Jared models positive choices in that he surrounds himself with people from the building where his aunt lives, and he frequently attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to stay sober. Although Jared is rarely safe, this reveals who he can trust in his life and works to reinforce the many positive relationships that he has. The language of the novel may be considered problematic, however, given the community that he often operates in, and his age, the humour, and language is reflective of that. There is a graphically described sex scene where Jared has a one-night stand, out of boredom, with a character from "Son of a Trickster", which will require unpacking and mature discussion.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Should this product be identified as Canadian?
Yes
Is the resource engaging?
Moderately
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Moderately
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Moderately
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Moderately
Is the resource an Authentic First Peoples Text?
Yes
This resource supports the characteristics of Aboriginal worldviews and perspectives:
Connectedness and Relationship
Awareness of History
Local Focus
Emphasis on Identity
Traditional Teaching
Language and Culture
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Extensively
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to male students?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to female students?
Moderately
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Extensively
Comments:
As many of the events of the novel rely on the Magic Realism of the connection between the land of the living and the land of the dead, students will need to be interested in that concept prior to reading this novel. "Trickster Drift" is also a sequel to the novel "Son of a Trickster" and relies on the reader's past knowledge of the characters and their relationships, although it can work as a stand-alone novel. Jared's attempts to right the wrongs of his past could also provide class conversations about positive communication and problem-solving, personal transformation, and working through conflicts.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Extensively
Is the resource easy to use?
Extensively
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Extensively
Are extraneous elements/illustrations kept to a minimum?
Extensively
Comments:
The novel starts with a table of contents that outlines the chapter names and page numbers. Every chapter is introduced with a chapter number and name at the top. Some of the chapters throughout the novel are in italics, and these chapters are used to give background information to the novel such as: the breakdown of Vancouver neighbourhoods, the sleep patterns of humans as compared to dolphins, photosynthesis, and a brief history of North American settlement. Throughout the novel there are other uses of italics such as when characters speak telepathically or in text message form. Otherwise the font and text size remain consistent.

PRINT NOVEL

Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Extensively
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
Extensively
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Extensively
Plot description:
Time has passed since the events of "Son of a Trickster", and 17-year-old Jared is now clean and sober, and has moved to Vancouver to start his life as a college student. However, Jared quickly finds that it is not so easy to leave his old life behind, as he is being stalked by his mother's ex-boyfriend, and is haunted by a variety of ghosts and spirits that others can't see. When the magic can no longer be denied, Jared learns that he can no longer ignore his true identity.
Related Comments:
Despite Jared's best efforts to get his life on track, he continually draws dark magic to him, which allows for heightened conflict and description of character. This will help students to have discussions around the idea of external circumstances that are beyond our control, and how we can still respond in a positive way. Most importantly, Jared relies on the community around him to overcome his obstacles, often by slowly working through who he can, and cannot, trust. Jared's voice is a unique one in that he openly discusses his failures, and how difficult it is to overcome them and do the right thing.
Genre:
Contemporary
Fantasy
Literary Highlights:
Complex conflict
Rich Characterization
Effective figurative language
Point of view
Type:
Novel

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)
Comments:
As "Trickster Drift" is the second book in a trilogy, there are many teacher resources for the series. There are many interviews with the author that are available online, including: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBmzJdN-yKE; https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books/article-the-indomitable-eden-robinson-discusses-writing-her-new-trickster/

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
The themes of the novel would allow for a unit study around ideas of identity, power, and attempting to move on from past choices. As Jared struggles to understand his own cultural and family past, the novel could provide connections to family histories and themes of accepting our pasts, regardless of the struggle. These themes could be used to prompt personal writing, and sections of the novel could be used to teach Magic Realism and descriptive writing.
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