I Can Make This Promise

by Christine Day (Author)

I Can Make This Promise
Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

In her debut middle grade novel--inspired by her family's history--Christine Day tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family's secrets--and finds her own Native American identity.

All her life, Edie has known that her mom was adopted by a white couple. So, no matter how curious she might be about her Native American heritage, Edie is sure her family doesn't have any answers. Until the day when she and her friends discover a box hidden in the attic--a box full of letters signed "Love, Edith," and photos of a woman who looks just like her.

Suddenly, Edie has a flurry of new questions about this woman who shares her name. Could she belong to the Native family that Edie never knew about? But if her mom and dad have kept this secret from her all her life, how can she trust them to tell her the truth now?

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
Debut author Day (Upper Skagit) handles family separation in Native America with insight and grace.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Debut author Day (who is Upper Skagit) drew from her own experience as the daughter of a Native American adoptee to create the character of Edie Green, a 12-year-old budding artist who lives in Seattle with her parents. Edie has always known that her Native American mother was adopted and raised by a white family; while digging around in the family's attic, Edie stumbles upon a box of photos and letters written by Edith Graham, a Suquamish and Duwamish aspiring actor from the 1970s. When her friends notice the striking similarity between Edie and Edith and her parents don't answer Edie's broad questions about her, Edie becomes convinced that the stranger is her namesake. Beyond the mystery, important themes resonate throughout, including cultural identity and what makes a friendship worth keeping. Day's affecting novel also considers historical truths about how Native Americans have been treated throughout U.S. history, particularly underlining family separations. Though Edie's first-person voice occasionally sounds a bit young for a seventh grader, her urgent desire to know her family's past propels this story forward. In illuminating notes that bookend the novel, Day further discusses the personal and historical roots of Edie's moving tale. Ages 8-12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-7-In this debut novel, a young girl discovers her grandmother's Hollywood aspirations and her mother's Suquamish and Duwamish ancestry. Edie knows that her white Dad is American and that her Native American mom was adopted into a white family, but that's almost all she knows of her heritage. Then, a casual excursion to the attic unearths pictures of Edith, a stranger who resembles Edie, and hard truths her family has kept hidden for years start to emerge. Day (tribally enrolled, Upper Skagit) captures the angst, embarrassment, and uncertainty of many Indigenous people whose parents or grandparents were separated from their communities by adoption or residential school placement. Day details Indigenous culture with skill and nuance and crafts complex relationships between multidimensional characters. The depiction of the painful history of Native peoples who were separated from their families and taken from their ancestral homeland is straightforward and honest. The use of text messages between Edie and her close friends moves the story along and gives the book an intimate feel. VERDICT Readers will be drawn into Edie's emotions as she copes with overprotective parents and honesty in relationships. Keep an eye out for Day, as her writing is powerful. Highly recommended.-Naomi Caldwell, Alabama State University, Montgomery

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"I Can Make This Promise manages to be both deeply sad and brightly hopeful, and Edie Green will steal readers' hearts with her empathy and curious spirit—she certainly stole mine."—Hayley Chewins, author of The Turnaway Girls
Christine Day
Christine Day (Upper Skagit) (bychristineday.com) grew up in Seattle, nestled between the sea, the mountains, and the pages of her favorite books. Her debut novel, I Can Make This Promise, was a best book of the year from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, NPR, and the Chicago Public Library, as well as a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book and an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. Her second novel is titled The Sea in Winter. Christine lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @bychristineday.

Chelsea Clinton is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World; She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History; She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game; Don't Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe; It's Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!; Start Now!: You Can Make a Difference; with Hillary Clinton, Grandma's Gardens and Gutsy Women; and, with Devi Sridhar, Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? She is also the Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, where she works on many initiatives, including those that help empower the next generation of leaders. She lives in New York City with her husband, Marc, their children and their dog, Soren. You can follow Chelsea Clinton on Twitter @ChelseaClinton or on Facebook at facebook.com/chelseaclinton.

Gillian Flint (gillianflint.com) is an illustrator who has a passion for painting in watercolors. She has been drawing and creating characters for as long as she can remember. Her work has been published in the USA, the UK and Australia. In her spare time she enjoys reading and gardening at her home in the UK. You can follow her on Instagram @gillianflint_illustration.

Alexandra Boiger (alexandraboiger.com) has illustrated nearly twenty picture books, including the She Persisted series by by Chelsea Clinton; the popular Tallulah series by Marilyn Singer; and the Max and Marla books, which she also wrote. Originally from Munich, Germany, she now lives outside of San Francisco, California, with her husband, Andrea; daughter, Vanessa; and two cats, Luiso and Winter. You can follow Alexandra on Instagram @alexandra_boiger.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Quill Tree Books
Publication date
December 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV013060 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Parents
JUV039120 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Prejudice & Racism
JUV013010 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | Adoption
JUV011040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Native American
Library of Congress categories
Family life
Indians of North America
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Prejudice
JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United S
Family secrets
Seattle (Wash.)
Washington (State)
Mothers and daughters
JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Adoption
Identity (Psychology) in children
Coast Salish Indians
American Indian Youth Literature Award
Honor Book 2020 - 2020

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