Seventh-grader Wesley Wilder is thinking about a lot of things. For example, her Upper Skagit community and heritage, which she loves being part of as much as she can. Then, there's the school newspaper publishing her poem celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. And wait, isn’t it weird that her English teacher at her new school doesn’t give her extra credit for the Indigenous Peoples’ Day poem, even though it satisfied all the requirements? And what’s going to happen with Wesley and her mom’s wonderfully unique living situation? Also, is her favorite gamer Indigenous, too? Last but not least, who is Ryan Thomas, the guy who’s always so nice to her in the school’s gaming club?
It’s a lot to contend with, but Wesley is a thoughtful person who takes steps to understand what’s going on around her, and who listens to her own feelings. She is proud of her poem despite her English teacher’s dismissal of it, and ends up sharing it with a much larger audience than she imagined. She discovers that her favorite gamer isn’t the only one with Indigenous heritage. And she decides to make sure Ryan Thomas knows that she likes him, even though it means taking a nerve-wracking risk.
Written by Christine Day, an enrolled citizen of the Upper Skagit tribe, We Still Belong is about a strong, kind, creative person who also sometimes feels unsure, makes mistakes, and is nervous about things. In short, she is the sort of relatable character that we’d all like to know IRL... but in the meantime, this book will do just fine.
--reviewed by Annie A.