Book Review: Sugar Falls (A Residential School Story)

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A school assignment to interview a residential school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, his friend’s grandmother, who tells him her story. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy was soon adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changed. Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalled the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls — words that gave her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive. 

My review:

A graphic novel which shows the brutal nature of residential schools

This is a story that gripped me from the very beginning, knowing it was going to be sad and realistic . We need to recognize the terrible things that were done to indigenous children at residential schools. In fact, like many other readers, I think it would be a great idea to include this story in all school curriculums so that we never forget. Introducing children to racism and classism will also encourage empathy and good reasoning skills that they can carry into their future life. The story shies away from none of the horrors of that the children had to face at the residential schools.

It is based on the story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. I think one of the cruelest things about her experience is that she could see her home from across the lake where the residential school was. Her family was so close, but impossibly far away. I can’t really imagine experiencing something so terrible as a young child.

It’s very sad to think of how many of the children died as a result of being there – often because they were trying to escape. Every survivor has those painful memories that will never go away. It’s important for all Canadians to hear stories shared by indigenous people. I’m very glad I read this story and I want to read more from the author! May we continue to learn from the past and move forward to a future where all people are free to be themselves.

You can check out this story’s description, reviews, and links to buy here.

Please follow the author on Goodreads and Twitter. You won’t want to miss out on his amazing content. Thank you for reading! Xx


  1. The story of Besty based on Betty Ross is very sad, the experience of residential school is really painful. You have reviewed it very beautifully. Well written.🌹😊

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