by Sheryl Doherty
Published by Wood Dragon Books
Review by Toby A. Welch
$18.99 ISBN 9781989078662
Finding Izzy is a dense book, almost 300 pages with a small font. But that is a great thing for the readers – it gives the author enough space to flesh out an engrossing story that pulls you in from page one.
Speaking of page one, that is where the action begins. In the opening scene, the main character, Izzy, wakes up in a hospital with no idea who she is. She sees a news story on TV about missing Indigenous women and is convinced she is one of them. She shares her theory with the two police officers who are trying to figure out who she is; they aren’t convinced she’s right. Once discharged from the hospital, Izzy is taken to a temporary emergency home in North Vancouver as Family Services believes she is under 18. From there the story takes off as police try to identify her through dental implants, fingerprints, and distinguishing marks.
Although this is a work of fiction, it is fascinating to ride along with the main character on her journey with amnesia. Doherty does a superb job of dropping us into the mental gymnastics required when you don’t have a clue who the heck you are. As the story progresses, we go on to deal with other issues common to teens – young love, drug use, teenage angst, friendships, and many others. We also touch on Indigenous related subjects.
Finding Izzy is timely with Canada’s current climate surrounding Indigenous people. The main character is Indigenous and we surmise that she has a background steeped in history. It’s no surprise that the subject matter is handled with tact, finesse, and compassion as the author is Indigenous herself. Doherty is Cree and Irish and is part of the Sixties Scoop, a generation of Indigenous children who were adopted out to non-Indigenous people in an attempt at assimilation. She has a captivating story of her own.
Unlike so many books these days that aim for the shock and awe factor, Finding Izzy is a slow burn. After the powerful beginning that draws you in immediately, the story unfolds in its own meandering pace. Yet it continues to hold your attention as the days pass and Izzy struggles to figure out how she was discovered in a Vancouver metro station with no memory of who she is. The conclusion to Izzy’s story manages to wrap things up while simultaneously leaving enough left open for you to fill in your own gaps. I love that!
I was not surprised to learn that Finding Izzy has been shortlisted for several book awards as it is a solid read. The writing is tight, the editing is spot on, and the story itself is powerful. The beautiful cover art ties the package together. This book has it all!
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