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Surviving the City

by (author) Tasha Spillett

illustrated by Natasha Donovan & Donovan Yaciuk

Portage & Main Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2019
NON-CLASSIFIABLE, Coming of Age, Canada, Girls & Women
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
8 to 12
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2018
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape—they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?

About the authors

Tasha Spillett, PhD, (she/her/hers) is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and public speaker who draws her strength from her Cree and Trinidadian bloodlines. Tasha’s work centers around the liberation and affirmation of BIPOC women and children. She acknowledges her unique opportunity and responsibility as an Afro-Indigenous woman to create learning environments that are culturally responsive. Infusing her teaching with cultural knowledge, Tasha supports and fosters belonging amongst BIPOC students and their families.

Tasha is the author of the award-winning graphic novel series, Surviving the City, the New York Times bestselling picture book, I Sang You Down from the Stars, and Beautiful You, Beautiful Me. Tasha weaves her cultural identity into both her trade and scholarly work focusing on issues affecting Indigenous women like calls for justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people. Her work is a continuation of the resistance against the legacy of colonialism and a celebration of the beauty and brilliance of her ancestors.

Tasha Spillett's profile page

Natasha Donovan is the illustrator of the award-winning Mothers of Xsan series (written by Brett Huson). She illustrated the graphic novel Surviving the City (written by Tasha Spillett), which won a Manitoba Book Award and received an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) honor. She also illustrated Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer which won an Orbis Pictus Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA). Natasha is Métis, and spent her early life in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although she moved to the United States to marry a mathematician, she prefers to keep her own calculations to the world of color and line. She lives in Washington.

Natasha Donovan's profile page

Since 1998, Donovan Yaciuk (he/him/his) has done colouring work on books published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse comics, and High Water Press including A Girl Called Echo and Breakdown: Reckoner Rises series and This Place: 150 Years Retold. Donovan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and began his career as a part of the legendary, now-defunct Digital Chameleon colouring studio. He lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada, with his wife and two daughters.

Donovan Yaciuk's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Selected as an AIYLA Young Adult Honor Book

American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA)

Centering the strong hearts of Indigenous women and girls and shattering racist assumptions, Surviving the City is a beautiful, uncompromising honour song to those of us that not only survive the urban, but navigate through it with the courage of our Ancestors.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of This Accident of Being Lost

Engrossing... [this story] remains a tribute to the missing and murdered and a clarion call to everyone else.

Kirkus Reviews

Selected for 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List, an annual booklist of the best feminist books for young readers

American Library Association (ALA)

Nominated for the Forest of Reading's Red Maple Award

Ontario Library Association

[A] haunting graphic novel... debut author Spillett and Donovan... present a story of girls growing up with the historical legacy of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people, particularly women and girls.

Publishers Weekly

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