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Young Adult Fiction Aboriginal & Indigenous

Rez Runaway

by (author) Melanie Florence

James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
Initial publish date
Aug 2016
Aboriginal & Indigenous, Diversity & Multicultural, General, LGBT
Recommended Age
14 to 18
Recommended Grade
9 to 12
Recommended Reading age
7 to 10
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2016
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


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 est une autrice primée d’origine crie et écossaise qui vit à Toronto, en Ontario. Elle a écrit Sans Nimâmâ, qui lui a valu le prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse en 2016 ainsi que le prix Golden Oak de la Forêt de la lecture en 2017, et une nomination à titre de finaliste aux prix First Nations Communities READ, la même année. Son album Les mots volés a remporté le prix Ruth et Sylvia Schwartz de littérature jeunesse en 2018, en plus d’être finaliste au prix Marilyn Baillie. Parmi ses autres livres, on compte Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools et les romans pour adolescents Just Lucky, He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night et Rez Runaway. Elle a également coécrit Autumn Bird and the Runaway avec Richard Scrimger.


MELANIE FLORENCE is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto, Ontario. She is the author of Missing Nimâmâ, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her most recent picture book, Stolen Words, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and was a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels Just Lucky, He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night, and Rez Runaway. Visit her at

Melanie Florence's profile page


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

Editorial Reviews

"Overall, Rez Runaway is an interesting book that not only tells an interesting tale but does well in increasing awareness in regards to discrimination, stereotypes, marginalized groups and most importantly of all support in unexpected places in Canadian society."


"Rez Runaway was the same as an being in an emotional roller coaster...I'm defenitely reading something else from Melanie Florence if I have the chance."


"This story was an emotional rollercoaster."

NetGalley Reviewer

"Lots of stuff going on in such a short book. I like the upbeat and optimistic tone."

Netgalley Reviewer

"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"

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."

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.'"

National Reading Campaign

"This story was an emotional rollercoaster."

NetGalley Reviewer

"Even with the heavy load from all the important topics, it's a breeze to get through. It's short and simply written for even the most reluctant readers."

NetGalley Review

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