Rez Runaway

by Melanie Florence

Raised on an Indian reserve, seventeen-year-old Joe Littlechief runs away when his devout Christian community discovers he is gay.
Raised on an Indian reserve, seventeen-year-old Joe Littlechief tries to be like the other guys. But Joe knows he's different — he's more interested in guys than girls. One night Joe makes a drunken pass at his best friend and, by the next morning, everyone on the rez is talking about Joe. His mother, a devout Christian, is horrified, and the kids who are supposed to be his friends make it clear there's no place for him on the rez. Joe thinks about killing himself, but instead runs away to the city. Alone and penniless on the city streets, Joe has to come to terms with who he really is.

About the Author

Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence
MELANIE FLORENCE is a proud Cree and a full-time writer currently based in Toronto. She is the author of the Righting Canada's Wrongs: Residential Schools, the YA novel The Missing, the Lorimer SideStreets title One Night, and Recordbooks title Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows in the Journey of the First Inuk to Play in the NHL, which was chosen as an Honor Book by The American Indian Library Association. As a freelance journalist, Melanie’s byline has appeared in magazines including Dance International, Writer, Parents Canada, and Urban Male Magazine.


"A compelling read that deals with plenty of complex and current issues. Melanie Florence has a real gift for immersing readers in the story...While there are many novels dealing with a teen's struggle to accept his or her own sexual identity, this is one of the first I've come across, dealing with a transgender character and two-spiritedness. Highly Recommended"
Joanne Peters,, CM Magazine

"This is a brutally honest look at what can happen to homeless youth, especially if they are struggling with gender identity. No punches are pulled... The reality of living on the street is brought to life...

Dialogue is fresh and natural although without the swearing that would be more realistic. Florence has really captured the lilt and tone of talk on the reserve. Chapters are short and the reading level is 3.9 so although the issues in this book will appeal to all high school students it will also be accessible to those high school students who are struggling to read well."

Joan Marshall,, Resource Links
"Covering tough topics such as gay bashing, gender identity, and underage prostitution, Florence unflinchingly depicts the risks encountered by LGBTQ teens. A gritty fairy tale for modern times, Rez Runaway communicates hope and compassion to an increasingly vulnerable teen demographic with an optimistic endnote that all teens need to hear: 'It really does get better.'"
Karen Doerksen,, National Reading Campaign


Best Books for Kids & Teens -- Canadian Children's Book Centre

Subjects (BISAC)


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