Uma atividade que ultrapassou as barreiras Brasil-Canadá! Os alunos da 1ª série do Ensino Médio leram "April Raintree", um livro de ficcção escrito por Beatrice Mosionier que conta a história de duas irmãs indígenas que são retiradas do convívio familiar no Canadá, nos anos 80, e passam a viver em casas adotivas.
Apesar da história ser uma ficcção, em parte é baseada nas experiências pessoais da autora. No final da leitura, a teacher Ana Carolina pediu para que os alunos escrevessem uma carta para a autora contando o que eles tinham aprendido com a história.
Através da editora do livro, essas cartas chegaram nas mãos da autora e a mesma fez questão de responder individualmente cada aluno.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
My name is Ana Lourenço and I teach English Language Arts in a Canadian high school in Brazil. I have been working with your book “April Raintree” for a few years now, and every year it is my student’s favorite unit. The first time I read the story of April and Cheryl I was hooked and I was very excited to share it with my students. As expected, they were engaged from beginning to end and your book always provides opportunities for such important reflections and debates. This year, my year 10 students wanted to write a letter to you to share their thoughts and feelings about “April Raintree”, and I wanted to share them with you. It would be incredible if you could respond to us, any way you can, but I do understand if it is not possible. I hope you enjoy their letters. Thank you for writing such an amazing book!
Hello Ana Lourenço,
If you are using the most recent edition of April Raintree, you’ll find that it includes a Foreword by Senator Murray Sinclair, who was the former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and a Preface by me to explain why I wrote this novel. Come Walk With Me, a Memoir, explains how my life was different from my characters’. It went out of print in 2019, but a couple of professors asked if I would somehow get it reprinted. I now sell it myself. My children’s books, Christopher’s Folly, and Unusual Friendships: a Little Black Cat and a Little White Rat, are also out of print for now. My nephew, James Culleton recorded a music CD, called Unusual Friendships. In the Shadow of Evil, is a novel published by Theytus Books. Portage & Main Press still sells Spirit of the White Bison, (grade 5); In Search of April Raintree, 25 th Anniversary Edition; ISOAR, the Critical Edition (university); and April Raintree. I believe these publishers have website information for ordering. If you so want to order any books and you have trouble, I can get you the information. I wrote short notes to your students and if they like, they can share with each other. I hope these notes will provide more information to them. Thank you. August 5, 2021 – I received your email with students’ letters on July 30. I am not sure I’ll have time to review what I wrote in my notes, so please forgive any mistakes I might have made.
Enderby, BC CANADA
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I finished your great book “April Raintree” this last week. To be honest, it wasn’t a book that I chose to read, in my school (Fernão Gaivota Maple Bear) they separate some books for the students to read each year, they are divided by our ages and if we can already handle them, I mean we read your adapted version (for the young ones) but even being the adapted version, I could feel my stomach turn upside down and my heart tight in many of the scenes, but If I was in a library and took a better look on the book, I think I would read it anyway.
I really enjoyed your book, and I don’t know what words I can use to describe my feeling about it. It's just amazing, this was one of my favorite books I read from school recommendations. I love how it just showed our hard truth of how it’s living in a world where you are discriminated against. I love how you didn’t “make up” our reality, I mean, I loved how you didn't hide it, although it hurts a lot, it’s the truth of many native girls, and you show it without pity. One example is the girls suffering since they were little kids, since her parents were alcoholics, being the stereotype the society labeled the natives. Another example is the structural racism the girls go through in schools, in playgrounds, in foster homes they lived in, and even by some of the social workers who worked to help them. I have nothing to complain about the book, I liked everything, all the details. The way you wrote the book made me sick, I mean not in a bad way, the book is so sad, the story is so real that I kept putting myself in April’s and Cheryl's place every time; every class we read it, I felt like I was sinking with a big rock stuck in my feet, but I wanted to sink until the bottom of the ocean, I could discover what was down there, I feel the same for the book. During the book, I had a thousand reflections that I never had or thought of before, but something that stayed on my mind forever was relating April’s and Chery’s story with me and my sister, Giovanna. We didn’t go through many situations that the girls did like the rape, or being taken away from their parents, or having alcohol problems. Therefore the love, anger, and longing, all those whirlwind feelings they have for each other, reminds me a lot of me and my sister and many fights, moments of joy, sad moments, and decisions our relationship had. I liked the end, I almost cried. It is very difficult to make me cry with some movies, series, or even books. I never cried with a book, and April Raintree was the first one that almost made me. I can’t forget to mention another connection I made, I mean, I discovered it, because it’s something that was always there, but I never thought about it. During all the book, the natives, or métis people are always stuck in the stereotype of being suicide, depressive, drug addicts, alcoholics, crazy and dirty people, but that’s only because of their colonizers, not only with the natives of the book but with many of the majority of the countries that were colonized and built based on the costumes of the white man. When they discovered Brazil, our colonizers marked that black, native, and indian people were bodies used to slavery, only that, the women, in general, were used just to satisfy and clean the house for men, that black women were classified as the same as white women, but they suffered from the racism and slavery, being many times, raped. When you build or reconstruct a story or the rules of a place from scratch, things will always be that way, because that's how it was done, the straight white man, cis, upper class at the top, and the rest below. The way history was written, it always will be, that is why not only Brazil, but the whole world is a very racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic place that is in a constant process of deconstruction.
I'm sorry for my big letter, what I wanted to do was meet you and talk for hours and hours about your book, I think it would be the only way for you to understand how I felt about it. I loved it. It's a sad and heavy book, but it is extremely necessary. When I get a little older, I want to read the non-adapted version (In search of April Raintree). You are a great writer, I am grateful that your book entered my school curriculum, I would read it again and again until I got tired, you did a great job and I have already recommended it to several of my friends, mainly to my sister. The only thing that instigated me was Cheryl, I really wanted to read her point of view, here's a tip if you write a sequence, I hope one day I can meet you.
Ana Beatriz Stopa, from Brazil
Hello Ana Beatriz Stoppa,
Thank you for your letter. I am so glad you were able to enjoy the story of the Raintree sisters.
Whenever we have a problem, I think we should look to the root of the problem for solutions. The problems they caused the Treaty Indian people was to take their children from families and communities and put them in residential schools. This plan would cause Indians people to give up their treaty status and that was why John A. MacDonald passed the Indian Act in 1876.
Over the years, the public began hearing of some of the atrocities that were being committed, which resulted in the closing of those schools. However, the government of Canada replaced that system with a foster care system that would continue the destructive practices of forced assimilation toward the Indigenous peoples. Today, graves of so many children are finally been discovered.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
Hi, I am in the first year of high school, and I just read your book "April Raintree". I’m writing this to say how much I liked it, the points that I liked the most in the book.
I liked your book for showing in detail the feelings and thoughts of the characters who suffered racism, because of that, I could feel in the same situation as the character, and feel bad just like her, for example in the rape scene, you showed how she felt, you showed every word of the characters around her, and that, in my opinion, made the book more interesting.
You also showed how a native person can be affected in adulthood through things that happened during childhood, for example, the racism that Cheryl and April suffered not only from adults but also from children. The book showed how this kind of thing affected the personality of the characters, for example, Cheryl, who was an innocent girl, then became proud of being native, and after she started drinking, getting tired, giving up her own life.
I liked that you showed how native people suffer from childhood until they are old, you showed April's feelings when changing families, her meetings with her real family, and the racism she suffered even as a child. For example, in the family (DeRosier), having to stay in a different room just because of her ethnicity, the situation in which other children pushed Cheryl to get hurt, and even two sisters being separated when they were only little girls. You showed how difficult it was for them to find friends, and to include themselves in society, how is difficult to find somebody like Roger. That's why I liked the book, you made it very clear how people still suffer racism, and you wrote it in a way that obliges those who read the book to think more about it, you made me think more about it.
Arthur Rivetti Coelho
Hello Arthur Rivetti Coelho,
Thank you for your letter and telling me how you felt about the Raintree story. While I have had racism directed at me from the time I was a very young child, somehow I managed to let it not bother me, most of the time. However, if they hurt someone else with racism, I did speak up. For me that was Important because I am the shyest person I know. I have always found that it is easier to be nice.
When I planned this novel, I thought it would never be published because it was only about Métis sisters who do not do anything that is heroic. Nobody would read it, hence, no market.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I had to read your book, April Raintree, for school, and it was amazing. It was the first time that I sincerely enjoyed reading a book that school made me read it.
I loved the way you approached some delicate themes in the story, at the same time you know that is important and brutal you don’t feel completely disgusted or mad about it, of course, I read the teen’s adaptation of the book but still is a great way to follow. I am impressed about how you got my attention, even when there weren’t so many things going on in the narrative, a good example is the girl’s childhood, I was involved. I wanted to know what was going to happen with the Raintree sisters. The emotions your book brings me is something I can’t explain correctly, you don’t know how much I cried reading the last chapter or how proud I was about Cheryl’s text, it is so beautiful and has so much truth in it. The book made me think of how bad the world is, but how the little stuff can make a lot of difference, just like April, in the end, finally accepting her origins and being proud of them, realizing that is always the two sides, you can choose one, but can’t ignore the other forever. One thing I realized, and I kept thinking a lot about it, and that’s why I need to ask you if while writing the book you imagine Cheryl with something like schizophrenia? I thought this because there is a moment where she is kind of fighting with the voices in her head, like if she was trying to make everyone there agree with keeping those secrets about her family to herself. There are other signs, one example is when she refers to the whisky bottle as a friend, she does this again with the trash cans… So this isn’t my only question but is for sure the biggest one. The others are things like: is Henri really their father? Or, what’s Cheryl’s side of history? Does April have a future with Roger?
I read a little about you too, you had two sisters right? I have 2 siblings too, a girl and a boy, but different from you, I’m the oldest one. I also read that you are métis just like the Raintree sisters, and knowing that this book was published in 1983, don’t mind if I ask but, did you have any problem trying to put your book in the stores because of your ethnicity? In conclusion, I loved your book and your work! I’m still very shocked that I really liked it, because the style doesn’t match very well with mine, but I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you, Beatrice, for this amazing piece of art that you wrote.
Hello Beatriz Barbosa,
Thank you for your letter. Your question about Cheryl Raintree being schizophrenia was quite interesting because no one has ever asked this question before. When I was writing the “talking-to-herself” scenes, I was thinking of different alcoholics talking like this. I talk to many “non-living things even though I don’t drink at all. To me, most things, especially animals, have spirituality to them.
Yes, Henry Raintree is really their father. I didn’t understand your question about Cheryl’s side of history?” Because this is fictional, I leave it to the readers to decide on April’s future with Roger.
I had two sisters and also a brother, Edward, all older than me. Canadian business people used to be more subtle about their biases, so I don’t know if booksellers liked my book. I guess some did and some didn’t. I think in Canada, people are usually polite to us. Beatrice
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I just finished reading your book, April Raintree, I read it for my E.L.A. classes and I really enjoyed it. The whole story was really interesting and it dealt with very heavy themes, but in a way that you could understand and keep reading it, this is what called most of my attention.
I think that this was one of the best books that I have read in school so far, it deals with some really heavy themes such as the native girl syndrome, families that are not even close to good, suicide, violence, etc. The way that you write makes things interesting and made me want to keep reading, to find out what would happen, even if it was something terrible (such as in the rape scene). It was really nice the way that April and Cheryl grew up and their personalities changed, Cheryl stopped being so innocent after she met the real world, April denying her true origins, just so no one would discriminate against her, the way that Cheryl’s change seemed so fast to us because she was actually lying to April, but that we could see that it took a long time (especially when we discover that she knew about their parents), everything was really interesting to read and I really liked the way that the sisters change.
The book also talks about the native girl syndrome, and how many Metis people are in the streets, and the discrimination they suffer, this really reminded me of many situations in the real world, where people are discriminated against because of their origins, or for what they are, and most of the time it is not their fault to be there. After doing some research I saw that the book was based on events in your own life, I really admire that, since it must have been really hard to write about certain things, I also admire that you could change something that would be absolutely depressing into something that made you want to read, just by using some specific words and strategies. This book made me see that many of the people that are used as stereotypes for discrimination are there because of the discrimination itself and that until everyone accepts that everyone has differences, the discrimination won’t end. I want to thank you for writing such a great book, and bringing these reflections into my life
Hello Bruno Krug,
Thank you for your letter. You commented on the “native girl” syndrome. I made that syndrome up so that I could explain that what you expect is what you get. Most grown-ups around me never realized how culpable they were, any more than we children did. If you look at where the oppressors came from, you realize they had a lot of practice all over the world. For me, one of the most horrific practices was to kidnap people from their homes and communities and force them to come to a new land to live as slaves. I will never understand how white racists think they are a superior race, because I think they are pathetic.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
This month I read the book “April Raintree” at my school, and below I’ll give you feedback on what I thought of the book.
I found the book very exotic, it is a type of content that would not attract my attention without reading it.
This book helped me a lot to reflect on the life of the world outside where women are beaten, raped, people suffer from their family or themselves due to alcoholism and even go so far as to give up their lives and commit suicide.
For me, it will never get into my head why people get to the point of taking their own life. Even because the book portrays this. April was supposed to be a girl who, for all she went through, she should think it would be better to take her own life, but no, she saw that this would not be an adequate way out, instead, she fought and faced the problems, and by the way, what problems! Cheryl and her mother had the option of going the other way, obviously, it would be more difficult, but they would be alive and happy with their families.
A character that made me very angry was Mrs. DeRosier because I cannot understand how a person can be so cold and racist.
I think that in some part of her life she should suffer the consequences of everything she did to children who came from foster homes. I think the romance between April and Roger will be more than right, Roger was very affectionate and attentive to the whole situation in April's life. I hope they get married and have children.
I have one last question about Roger, does he know his family by blood? So it was a very interesting book to reflect more on our decisions in which we are going to make in the face of life's problems, and that we can rather face them regardless of what it is.
You seem to be a very strong woman because, with everything you've been through, you were still able to still write a book about it. It was a great idea to write about this topic because it is not something that we see a lot and it teaches us a lot and portrays the characters’ courage and strength in the face of issues. You must have been through a lot of things, both in school and in your family and I'm sorry for that.
I felt so strong and privileged to read this book. I would really like to know how you felt writing this book, and how do you feel seeing that it helped many people? I would definitely read other books from you.
Hello Catarina Tamaro,
Thank you for your letter, telling me that it helped you do some reflecting. When I decided to write about two Métis sisters: April, who could pass for white and was ashamed of her Indian blood; and Cheryl, who looked Indian and embraced who she was. I did this so I could use their points of view to describe how we see both Indigenous and Non-indigenous peoples.
Roger Madison is white. I was married two times, and both of my husbands were white. I lived in white foster homes in a white community, and I became assimilated. I have never been racist and I think the reason is that I heard talks by Martin Luther King Jr, when I was around 12. I think that is when I began to feel that Indigenous males were my brothers, and Indigenous females were my sisters.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I just finished one of your books, April Raintree. We read it as an academic request in our school, however, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it was one of the best books that I read in school. It was pretty interesting, from beginning to end.
To start it out I would like to say that the book is really good, I enjoyed reading it, it tells a story that even being a theme that does not catch the attention of people so easily, could become so popular, mainly because of the great plot, the fact that we can watch April grow up really gets into me in a different way. It was the first book I read that told me a whole story from childhood to adulthood, and the first to show me how kids can suffer. Honestly, the moment that April started to be treated like a slave at the De Rosiers family, I was really pissed off, what hate that I felt for that family, it really made me mad. I really enjoyed the way you wrote the tense scenes, once I started to read them I simply could not stop before getting to the end, you made a wonderful work when it comes to cliff-hanging the reader. One example was when April and Cheryl had an argument, right before Cheryl kills herself, and at the moment I could not stop reading it, mainly because of the intensity of the situation, it reminded me of when my cousin and my father had an argument, I never felt so tense in my life, and this book brought back this sensation of intensity for me, although the book does have its boring scenes, I would say that the tense ones make it worth it.
I read a little bit about you, and I can't believe how similar your life was to April’s. At first, I knew that you spent most of your childhood in foster homes (I really hope they were more like the Dions, and less like the De Rosiers), then sometime after finishing high school, you married Bill Culleton, and then got a divorce just like April and Bob. From what I read, you based April Raintree on your own life experiences, which is a little sad to listen to, considering what happened with April, however is awesome that you made a book of “your life” in an indirect way.
The book shows a really interesting story of a different perspective of the world and the life of people who live being rejected from society. I would really like to know what happens now. Is April going to take care of little Henry Lee? Is she going to stay with Roger? And who is the real father of that kid? Those questions really make me wonder what is the final conclusion of the book.
Hello Felipe A.,
Thank you for your letter. I am glad you enjoyed most of the story of April Raintree. My childhood was mostly good with some bad things that happened. Sometimes I think if we didn’t have challenges in our lives, challenges that we have to overcome, we might not have something to write about.
You asked if April was going to take care of little Henry Lee, and yes, she would. She would never let the little one go into foster care. Since Cheryl lived with Mark, I thought readers would see him as the father.
Not knowing for sure and not making this important in the book is an unspoken example of how colonialism works. Men in power rape oppressed women and they don’t want to know about babies. By finally accepting her heritage, April is capable of raising Henry.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
So, I just finished reading April Raintree and there is a question that I would like to know.
Well, I would like to know if it was easy to write the book, obviously wasn’t, but, was it hard?
Because it’s based on your’s traumatic experiences, and I think it mustn’t have been very easy
to keep remembering all the things you went through, such as sexual violence and the suicide of
your’s sister, but, as the book shows how strong April is, I think you are even stronger than her,
but that’s it. I really would like to know if was hard for you to write, and how was the experience,
if they asked you to remove the rape, and things like that.
The book shows us how the Metis people live, and all the difficulties that your people suffered.
But looking from another point of view, it shows us how strong you are, this could not apply to all
of you, but you are definitely not the only one. I really think that your people are strong.
But that’s it, I really liked the book, and sorry if I offended you, but that's it, thanks for making
Thank you for your letter. When my oldest sister, Kathy, died on October 5, 1980, and I decided to write a book, I was not involved in any way with Indigenous peoples or organizations. Kathy’s suicide is what made me accept who I was. It was the same with April. Because of Cheryl’s suicide, April accepted who she was.
I thoroughly agree with you when you say I am not the only one who is strong. I don’t even know if I am. What I do know is that the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island are among the most courageous, honest, forgiving peoples in the world. You should check the Great Law of Peace, which spread across the lands. Beatrice
Dear Beatrice Monsionier
I’ve finished reading your book April Raintree, which I had to read because of school, and found it to be one of the most impactful books I have ever read.
After I finished reading the book, I was perplexed. The book approached a delicate topic with such courage and honesty. Seeing everything that April has been through, early with the mistreating by the DeRosier family, to the troubled relations she had, and being able to sympathize with her was essential to understand the message that your work wants to tell. Your detailed writing, which can be graphic sometimes, as seen when April is raped during the 11o chapter, helps the reader to visualize the events that are happening and understand them. Also, as the story progresses, you are able to show that the question is so complicated, that even the protagonist cannot realize that she had a prejudice against her own people. She only accepts her ancestry and origins by the end of the book, when so much tragedy had already happened. April slowly realizing how deep the problem reaches is a terrific way to connect the audience to the question and make them reflect on it. Also, the protective attitude that April expresses when with Cheryl, ends up only being prejudicial to both of them. Cheryl, on one hand, ends up too shocked by the reality she was presented with, and cannot deal with, so she sadly kills herself. April, on the other hand, only hurt herself and her sister trying to shield them both from the true situation. I think Cheryl’s character can be described as someone actively fighting against what she believes is wrong and unfair, which is visible when she always tries to reach solutions to solve problems that afflict the native people. April is complacent, willing to accept the situation she is put in. Instead of trying to help the Metis people, she actively attempts to join the white society and deny her ancestry.
At the end of the book, it is told that the work is inspired by your own life. I think you’ve done a great job at translating your life experiences into the novel. I can only imagine how hard it is to recount such traumatic experiences and still perform well.
My conclusion is that April Raintree is a powerful story. The melancholic tone synergizes very well with the topic of the book. I believe it is an incredible work that not only accomplishes its objectives but also heavily connects to the reader with the charismatics and well-developed characters.
Thank you for writing the book!
Hello Guilherme Neto,
]Thank you for your letter. Some Métis people have tried to avoid the hurtful racist attacks by passing for white. They even develop a prejudice against their own people. After my novel was published, many Métis people thanked me for writing this book as they reclaimed their identities. I tried to use a melancholic tone to April’s narration to give more power to the survivor effect. You are one of the few readers who has caught on to this, or at least tell me about it. I was why I wanted to original cover to let readers know this would be a sad.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
This week I finished one of his books, April Raintree. I loved it. I started reading it because of the school, I read it during ELA classes with my teacher and classmates.
The book made me rethink a lot about several subjects, such as prejudice against indigenous people, bullying, suicide, rape, adoption, and alcoholism, which are the topics covered in the book. The way the book portrays that Cherly always went to good homes with good families and April was almost always treated badly in her foster homes, shows how adoption can be something incredible for a child but at the same time it can be something horrible for another, and it is scary. Cheryl’s suicide was one of the parts of the book that most upset me because throughout the story it seemed that Cherly would have a bright future that would make up for all the sad and bad things she has suffered. The rape chapter shocked me a
lot, it made me disgust, but it was not something I had not heard before, after all, 97% of women have suffered some type of harassment. The book also shows how serious alcoholism can be, especially because Alice and Henry lost their daughters.
I realized that you and the main characters were born in the 1940s.
I loved the book because it showed me that even with so much pain and suffering people can still see hope and be happy, which is the case with April, who had a bad relationship but later found the love of her life. She suffered a lot of prejudice and bullying but it made her stronger. The fact that she was raped but managed to live even with the immense pain that was caused and finally the fact that she lost her sister so horribly, but in the end, she has a family and a nephew. The book showed me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that
we are strong to overcome even the greatest pains.
Thank you for that knowledge and teachings. I just have a doubt, did Henry understand his mother's death, and was he able to overcome it? Did he manage to empathize with his own mother, or did he end up hating her because she "abandoned" him?
Isabela Pagnossim Honorato
Hello Isabela Pagnossim Honorato,
Thank you for your letter. The idea of writing about April and Cheryl having to deal with the pain and suffering, is to let people know that they can overcome those adversities if you aim for that result. Most of us are not weak. We might use alcohol or drugs to get rid of the horrors we have faced in our lives. We just want to forget. I came to understand my parents and my siblings. When I was younger, I judged them harshly.
It is very important to realize it’s not the alcohol and drugs that caused the suffering. Colonization and oppression took us down. All because some countries had a need for power, and had so much greed. They wanted what belonged to others, and developed weapons that killed very effectively.
Because this book is fictional, the characters did not really exist. In real life, children, like Henry, will probably be told the truth if they are able to remain with their own relatives. In my life, social workers and my foster mothers told me lies “to protect me”. Lying is not acceptable. It stops me from trusting anyone.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
Hi, I am one of your readers, my name is Isabella, and I found your book stupendous, sad, but at the same time exciting. The way you wrote the book left me stuck where I always wanted to read more and more of the story. One of the things that I loved in the book was the construction of the characters, how their feelings and thoughts are described, and the beautiful construction of the dialogues either in a fight or in a subtle interaction.
To think that some of these things happened to you is quite shocking to imagine. You are a strong person for having gone through all this and writing a book so well done. I learned by reading your book that as much as things go wrong you can never give up, maybe if you had given up I would never have read your book and just thinking about it makes me sad.
I felt a lot of things with this book, like fear and distress when April was raped, or sad to learn that their mother ended up committing suicide. This book made me think about how inhuman people can be with each other, it’s sad to see it in the book, but this is more servile so that the characters develop and become stronger, and this can apply to real-life as well, as much as things are bad this will serve to make you stronger.
Hello Isabella Correa,
Thank you for your letter. It is very encouraging that you have gotten so much out of this book. Many readers do not realize why they feel the emotions they feel when they read this book or books like this. I think it’s because even though it’s fictional, it’s also true. The saddest part is to discover how cruel people can be towards others. I can’ imagine what it must feel like to feel hatred towards others and I wonder why. They are the ones who need to heal.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I hope this letter finds you well. I have finished reading your book April Raintree and it still brings me lots of feelings. My teacher assigned this book and at first, I did not expect it would be so touching, that is why I am writing to tell you how much I appreciated it.
What I liked the most in your book was that the way you wrote it, when I read it, I could get involved with all the situations April and Cheryl were in, I mean, I felt in their shoes, I felt their pain, anger, and happiness, even though there were rare happy moments. For example, when they had their meeting at the Child Protective Service Centre, they were so happy to see each other, and every time they had to stand up and defend themselves from the prejudiced situations they faced. There are so many thought-provoking themes in this book, including the search for identity, self- cceptance, foster care, suicide, and rape (the two toughest issues, in my opinion). It broke my heart to read Cheryl’s journal and her suicide note to April. I really
believe your books made me feel more empathy and reflect how realistic this foster children’s situation is, and how far it goes beyond our knowledge. But also, I admired how April became this strong and self-confident woman after this painful life she had. April Was very realistic to me. I truly felt that if I lived the situations that she faced, maybe I would have reacted the same way she did.
I did a quick research about you and I found out that, actually, it was a non-fictional story. I learned that you are not only a Métis woman but also that this is actually your story with some details and names changed. As well as April, you were separated from your family and lived in several foster families and you were, in fact, raped. My heart goes out to you whenever I think how painful and hard your life has been and how these memories might haunt you. However, I want to believe that writing to you was therapy, a scape for you to learn how to deal with all these harsh feelings and memories. You coped with it all and became this proud and wonderful woman.
I wonder how I have never heard of your book before. But now that I finished reading April Raintree, I can’t wait to read your other books. You inspired me to read more about the native people which are such an important part of Canadian history. Thanks for inspiring me to accept myself and to be stronger than I am. I would like to know: Which was the hardest part for you to write this book? Maybe one day I will become a writer too.
Hello Julia Coni,
Thank you for your letter and for telling me that that you were inspired to accept yourself. One of the hardest parts for me to write was the rape. When I wrote it, I wanted to tell it only once and only in the first draft. Sometimes you need to do a lot of rewriting when you work on a book. Back in 1984, we had a Native Education branch and they asked me to edit In Search of April Raintree so it could be used in high schools. I did not never expect this novel would be used in schools mostly because of the rape and the language. I tried to soften both the rape and the language. The other hard part was writing of Cheryl’s suicide. I knew she would commit suicide because of my sisters. I tried to make her so lovable that readers would be sorry that she died. I did that because both of my sisters were so special and lovable. With April, I tried to make her remarkable as a child because as an adult denying her roots, she would be more criticised. I think everyone should try writing something privately. If you write in a compassionate honest way, I’m pretty sure it will help someone else.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
Hello, I just read your book and wrote this letter to say how much I liked it and how much it created meaning for me. In the beginning, I didn't like it very much, but after about 2 chapters I saw that the book was interesting and is a true book, which shows facts that happen even in real life.
April Raintree is a book that if you understand the story you feel inside it because you managed to show all the feelings of those who suffered prejudices and those who were reading felt in their place. One point I really liked about the book is how you show that children are abused until they get older, but adults are also abused. I liked that because you put this message in the book. You had a lot of feelings in the book like April's family change, racism, or even when Cheryl was pushed at school. The part that must have shocked me was when they said that April was raped because they confused her with Cheryl. This book has some parts that shock me a lot. When Cheryl’s mother died, when Cheryl died and the rape.
If I could rate this book I would give it a 9, because there is no part two. If it had part 2, it would certainly be 10. I liked it very much because you show that children and adults still suffer racism, bullying, and sexual abuse to this day. I'm from Fernao Gaivota school, and if you can send the book April Raintree part 2.
Hello Julio Menezes,
Thank you for your letter. I am glad you ended up liking the rest of the book. Sometimes we need to talk about the hard times we go through, to let others know it is possible to recover. I am sorry to say that there is no part 2 to April Raintree. The best I could do was write my biography, which ended after my mother died. It’s called Come Walk With Me, a Memoir, and I introduce readers to my real mother. She is different from Alice Raintree. I explain the difference between my life and that of April Raintree. When I started to do speaking engagements, I asked both my Mom and Dad if I could talk about their lives and they were both generous enough to say yes.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
In those days I finished your incredible book, April Raintree. I read this book in class and I’m here to say how I enjoyed it and how the book, in general, got me surprised. Before I read your book, I was not trying to give a chance to this genre, but with the ending of the story, I’m almost sure that I will read something similar.
As I said, the whole book for me is a fantastic work, but one thing that really convinced me was the vocabulary and how you use the words. In my experience, looking in a critical way, I noticed how detailed the book was getting when important points were happening, the weight of the words was absorbing the page and transforming that into an emotional and hard chapter. I really liked this, you did a book that causes anxiety, curiosity, and at the same time fear of what was going to happen. Now talking about the characters, as the chapters were going on and more and more things were appearing, in my vision, more the characters were changing, talking individually and between them. The way they evolve is really interesting and difficult to do. They evolve in a calm way, we don’t realize a drastic change in a short time, but obviously, they change, and so much. My favorite characters were Roger and Cheryl. In the final chapters Roger really helps April, he doesn't surrender anytime and tries hard to make things work. And about Cheryl, we can see clearly how she was affected by so much bad news in her life, so it’s interesting to go along with it.
Before this book, I didn’t know who you were, so I don’t know so much about details, just parts about your journey. But with all that is written and the way it is there, I can assimilate and say that the lesson I learned is to be conscientious of my decisions, how they can affect me and the people around me.
And now that I finished April Raintree, I will search for more books like it and read a lot. It is very interesting for me, so before finishing my text, thanks for the despair with my willingness to read. Thank you for paying attention, and congratulations on the incredible book.
Luís Henrique da Silva
Hello Luis Henrique da Silva,
Thank you very much for your comments on my writing. I am gratified that you like Roger, along with Cheryl. Readers often ignore Roger and not that many people ask about him. I didn’t want to write too much about him because he might distract from April and Cheryl and their final scenes together. We are fortunate to have many great Indigenous writers today in many different genres. You can find them on websites.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I finished your book, April Raintree, a few days ago, and what an extraordinary book. Most of the time, I found myself speechless. No words. My teacher asked us to read it for English class, and I can say that your book was the first one that I was excited about, always wanting to know what was happening after. I appreciate the chance I had.
I want to say that your writing is fantastic. You describe the scene so somehow the reader can imagine; you have addressed several crucial issues relevant to be shown. As I mentioned before, you made me speechless, surprised. I did not expect some of the things that happened in Cheryl's life. Henry Liberty Raintree. I did not react. For some reason, I never thought about her having a kid. The girls foster home situation reminded me of a Brazilian tv show -which I do not remember the name- that I used to watch every day at a younger age. They struggled from being apart but eventually found each other again. Throughout the reading and discussions in class, I started to question some things. Who is Henry Lee's father? Did Cheryl had any psychological issues? Have you ever thought about writing a whole other book
based on Cheryl's point of view? I am convinced that I would be one of the first people on the line to buy it. The ending of your book filled me with the feeling of hope, and after all that happened, everything would find its proper place and be okay, even if it could hurt.
I did a quick reading about your life experiences, and I saw that you lost two sisters to suicide. I am sorry for your loss. If you do not mind me asking, is this why you decide to include suicide at the very ending? Did you want to give the reader a message, a lesson, that maybe we couldn't find or understand?
I admire you for everything you went through and still had your head up. You are strong. Thank you for sharing part of your history with the world, and provide me the experience of different feelings at the same time. I am, for sure, looking forward to reading more books of yours. Which one would you recommend to me as my second read? I hope you are doing well and staying safe.
Thank you for your very kind comments. Who is Henry Lee’s father? I imagine Mark was the father since Cheryl lived with him for a while. I don’t know for sure. I addressed this in a previous letter.
As for having psychological issues, Western medicine defines so many symptons as being psychological, that everyone might have had these issues at some point in their lives. What I wanted readers to concentrate on was that Cheryl had a drinking problem, and she was deeply depressed because of hopelessness. Again, that came from colonialism and oppression.
I may had written about this already but it is worth repeating. My sisters were very special. They committed suicide. I had already decided that Cheryl would commit suicide, and I would try to make readers see her as being so very special that they would hurt as much as I did when each of my sister committed suicide. I made a list of my books for your teacher. Thank you for asking.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I read your amazing book, April Raintree (adapted), which was suggested by my teacher at the school where I currently study.
I am writing to say that I really liked the book, I confess that at the beginning I had not put so much expectation for this book but in the end, the book and April won my heart. In addition to the well-structured story, you managed to address several important things that happen a lot in society. The point of view that you showed and addressed the separation of girls from an early age from their parents, suicides, mistreatment, racism, and rape was really good because I had never really read a book like this, which addresses so many sensitive issues but that we need to know and that happens and unfortunately so often.
The development of the story is very good and easy to follow, and at various times I aroused various feelings and found myself nervous, apprehensive, and curious to know what would happen to the girls. Speaking of which ... what to say about April? Seriously, what a wonderful character, she certainly is my favorite.
Having been separated from her biological parents, having gone through two other adoptive families, the Dion's who treated her much better than the DeRosiers (I confess that I often wanted to beat the DeRosiers for having made the girls slave and treating them different just for the account of their skin tone), for always trying to protect and care for Cheryl, and later on being raped, finding out what happened to her biological parents and the suicide of the sister she loved so much.
It just shows how strong she is for having gone through all of this, I imagine it wasn’t easy for her, but even so, she kept going on because even now she would have Henry to look after and Roger to keep her company and love her. My favorite part, by the way, was when she said that she loved him, even when that happened were not one of the best I super supported, mainly because when she needed it most he didn't leave her side.
I was just really upset about not having anything after that in the story. Wouldn't you have a sequel? To find out more about how April will relate to Henry or if she will think about having children in the future?
But in spite of everything, I would like to thank you for making such a necessary and incredible book, even if it has sensitive parts for many people. It’s a mix of emotions and I don't think I'll ever forget it.
Hello Maria Eduarda,
I thought of writing a sequel but nothing came to me. Having been fostered I had no idea how to be a good parent. So if I did not know, then how could April know? She may have had Roger and maybe his family members later on to help with advice. Mostly, she would have to have some kind of parenting education, an education that is relevant to Indigenous people. Most foster children will encounter institutionalized racism, also called systemic racism. Indigenous parents have so much more to learn than most parents, to protect their children.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
Greetings! I’m sending this letter to you because I have read your book “April Raintree”. It's ironic that I’m writing to you in April, right? Well, I just wanted to talk about how much I enjoyed it.
This book was fantastic, it brings me a lot of feelings, sadness, anger, disgust, and happiness. It is incredible how alive the characters are, even though it’s part-reality most of the time I felt their emotions. By far the best character in the book is April, I love her evolution over the years and how she reacts to things, I could easily say that this had happened to someone in real life. That conversation with Mrs. Sample about the “Native Syndrome” at the start of the book really makes me angry, and that molded April’s characteristics in the future of the story, not only that but the numerous other racist situations that had happened in the book, making April in different situations react in a lot of divergent ways, which makes it even more interesting to read. This book reminds me of another one named “The House on Mango Street” that has the same environment as yours, the book tells a lot about racism, and it has a pretty similar plot/setting, talking a lot about alcoholism and prejudice in the perspective of the young ones.
I have done a lot of thinking after I have finished this book, I still have some questions. What was your inspiration for the writing of this book? Why did you publish it? Did you suffer the same prejudice as the characters in the story? Where did you get the inspiration to tell the events through the reading? I have learned a lot of things after reading this book, a lot about racism, alcoholism. and depression/suicide, and now I feel that I can understand a lot more about these topics, and mainly I have learned to have more resilience and resistance to face my problems.
After all this reading I’m really up to trying more of your books, I love the “Slices of life” kind of stories and I would be pleased if I encountered another story like “April Raintree”, thank you for writing a fantastic story.
Hello Miguel Cardozo,
Thank you for your letter. My inspiration for writing this book was a second suicide in my birth family. Pemmican Publications of Winnipeg was the first publisher and they really liked it because they had begun publishing books about Métis people and their issues. I’ve been through what my characters experienced and while it can hurt, it didn’t take me long to realize there must be a reason. When I lost another sister to suicide, I knew I could use much of what happened to me to tell a story. Turn disadvantages into advantages. If Kathy had not died, I would never have written a book. That you have learned more and expanded your understanding of issues that face us, is encouraging.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
In my English class, we all read your book, “April Raintree”, although it was the kid-friendly version I really did like your book.
I really enjoyed the perspective of indigenous struggle with racism, although I'm unfortunately all too familiar with racism I really did appreciate the perspective you brought on, It showed just how different black prejudice is from indigenous prejudice. I also really liked your dialogue, it was natural and realistic, it really did make it easy to fall into the book without realizing that you're not just watching two or more people having a normal conversation instead of reading a book. I also really liked your character development style, instead of going for the obvious choice and making adult Cheryl as optimistic as when she was a child you had her go through multiple struggles in her life and become more cynical, to the point where she even took her own life, that's also something I wanted to mention, the dark moments and/or tones in the book, I was in aw in every single dark or suspenseful moment, from Aprils unfortunate rape to the bombshell that was Cheryl’s suicide. I really did like your book, and in my personal opinion,
it's up there with some of my most favorite books, such as “Wonder” and “The Hate U Give”. I know it might be a really personal question but I’m still interested in knowing, how was it writing the rape scene, before reading the book our teacher had told us that the book was based on our own life experiences, which probably means that the rape scene was real, and considering how detailed it was it seemed way to personal to have just been made up, I really don’t mean any harm, I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to remember that horrible thing that happened to you and then putting it in words.
I really do appreciate your book, it taught me much, like for example the life of an indigenous person in a postcolonial world, the life of a woman in modern society, and also that black people aren't the only ones that suffer due to their race, I really resonated with April identity crisis during the book, when she didn't know if she was white or if she was indigenous, that aspect really hit close to home for me.
Finally, I just wanted to mention how utterly brilliant you are, the way you've written your book, from the character development to the pacing and handling of major events all incredibly well written you’ve really done a good job with this book. It really does deserve all of the praise it
has. Thank you, honestly for making such a masterpiece.
Pedro Eduardo Mariscal Pereira
Hello Pedro Eduardo Mariscal Pereira,
Thank you for your letter and for telling me that black prejudice is different from indigenous prejudice. We watch the news that comes from the USA, about Black Lives Matter. Separations between our groups here in Canada, definitely exists. I think the politics of this land make sure that we remain separated. For instance, survivors of the foster care system has received very little attention compared to Indian school survivors.
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I have finished reading your fantastic book, “April Raintree” and I am writing this letter to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book. This book has a little bit of everything, mystery, drama, and action, which I enjoy.
I really liked how descriptive this book was, the characters just felt so alive with your incredible writing. One of my favorite characters is April as she’s courageous and kind. I really like that she did almost everything for her sister, April was always there for Cheryl in the darkest moments, she always made sure Cheryl was safe, for example, that part when she was almost killed by a bull, but then April saved her. The DeRosiers really triggered me because of the way they treated April, and also when Maggie spread those rumors at school about her. The rape part really surprised me as it was unexpected, which left me on the edge of my seat.
I did some research about you and I found out that you also became a ward of the Children’s Aid Society due to your parent’s alcoholism just like April and Cheryl. I noticed that this story included traumatic incidents from your own family life, including the experience of being raped, and I’m sorry you had to go through that.
To be honest, this book was kind of tense and had me on the edge of my seat, however, it was a very interesting book and I’d totally recommend it to others. I would also like to read other books written by you! Thank you for publishing this book.
Hello Rodrigo, Thank you for your letter, telling me some of what you enjoyed in reading this book. I mostly had fun writing it, except for some parts. I liked writing about the DeRosiers because of Rebel. In a way, he helped by just being with April and then Cheryl. When I really got into the story, April and Cheryl took over, and even though I had an outline, I would change it if necessary, just to follow where they led. Beatrice
Dear Beatrice Mosionier
I just finished your wonderful book, April Raintree, and I am writing to say how much I enjoyed it and I am grateful for having such a good read. April Raintree was read in the classroom, addressing topics dealing with controversial subjects. It was an intense and pleasant mixture since it caused several debates to raise awareness.
I loved reading this book. Your descriptive, sensitive writing and sketches of it made me visualize the story, and I felt like I was wearing Cherly's or April's shoes, depending on the chapter.
Your writing made characters come alive for me. My favorite character was Cherly because despite all the regrets she brought to the story, her strength is undeniable. Since the beginning of the book, she has expressed her feelings of her intensely and her love for her people is captivating. Even though she is aware of several problems for April, such as rape or fights, the book is told in an April way of being, while Cherly is not so approached. Cheryl was unable to overcome her alcoholism and leave a child, it hurt me so much, I burst into tears during a reading. But I understand what led to that situation, from a hostile and difficult childhood to her reunion with her father, we cannot forget the abusive relationship that she experienced.
I read a little about your life and the way you managed to contextualize it for April Raintree is sensational, your strength is indescribable, I was delighted.
The lesson I learned from your book is that some traumas generate impacts for a lifetime, and that to overcome them it takes a lot of strength and courage, issues such as sexual abuse and suicide were also important, because in addition to the awareness linked to reality so many people.
I would also like to express the affection I feel for the relationship between April and Roger, finally someone who deserves it has appeared and I hope with all my heart that they are happy.
Thank you for writing such a wonderful book, I feel grateful and privileged to have this opportunity.
Hello Victoria Focaça, Thank you for your letter, and that some of the subjects were addressed in an intense and pleasant mixture, and that your class had several debates to raise awareness. This was my first novel, and while I didn’t look for this, I discovered that I am compassionate and that I care about people, well, most people. That is why I now I encourage people to write. Beatrice