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The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is a complex and emotionally resonant novel about a Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies. In her debut novel, author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.

Ferguson says she chose to write The Summer of Bitter and Sweet because, “By my 30s, I’d read exactly two books that made me feel seen: Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love which features a demisexual main character having her love story and Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, where I saw a Métis main character in a starring role. Yet as a demisexual mixed-race Indigenous woman, I’d never read a novel where a character could be both Métis and queer. So I wrote one.” 

In the novel, main character Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice-cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

Praise for The Summer of Bitter and Sweet: "In a layered first-person portrayal of a young Indigenous woman navigating the edge of adulthood, Ferguson tackles necessary issues—of identity and sexuality alongside colonialism, generational trauma, racism, physical and sexual assault, and substance reliance—through well-wrought, complicated characterizations and prose that sings with poetry."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is available now wherever books are sold, and you can start reading an excerpt here

About the Author: Jen Ferguson is Michif/Métis and white, an activist, an intersectional feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD in English and creative writing. She teaches fiction writing at Loyola Marymount University. Connect with her on Twitter @jennyleeSD or online at jenfergusonwrites.com

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is brought to you by Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books that centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.