Author Photos

Available for download and use.



Short Bio:


Jen Ferguson (she/her) is Métis and white, an activist, a feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD. She believes writing, teaching and beading are political acts. Her debut YA novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, is out now from Heartdrum / HarperCollins.


Long Bio:

Jen Ferguson (she/her) is Métis/Michif and white Canadian settler, an activist, a feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD. She believes writing, teaching and beading are political acts. Her debut YA novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, is out now from Heartdrum / HarperCollins, with a second YA novel, THOSE PINK MOUNTAIN NIGHTS, to follow in Fall 2023. Her favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip and she always puts pineapple on pizza.


Her first book for adults, Border Markers, a collection of interrelated flash fiction stories, is out now with NeWest Press. Her essay "Off Balance" was selected for the Best Canadian Essays 2020. Learn more about her short stories, essays, and poems.

She lives on the traditional and unceded territories of the Meskwaki, the Báxoje and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ nations, and teaches fiction writing, among other things, at Coe College. You can reach her on twitter at @jennyleeSD or through her contact page.


For publicity inquires, please contact Aubrey Churchward, Publicity Manager, HarperCollins Children's Books.

For rights inquiries, please contact Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

For all other inquiries, use the Contact page.


Twitter: @jennyleeSD -

Instagram: @jdotferg -


Official Announcement

Official Announcement for The Summer of

Rosemary Brosnan and Cynthia Leitch Smith at Heartdrum have bough, in a preempt, The Summer of Bitter & Sweet by Jen Ferguson (Métis/white). In this debut YA novel, a demisexual Métis teen is settling in to spend the summer before college working at her close-knit family's ice cream shack with her best friend, ex-boyfriend, and newly back-in-town crush, when a letter from her white biological father, recently out of prison, threatens to destroy everything she cares about. Publication is scheduled for summer 2022; Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary did the two-book deal for world English rights.

Summer Of Bitter Sweet Book Cover

Cover Credits

Illustrated by Reyna Hernandez.

Beading done by Kim Stewart.

Jacket designed by Laura Mock.



In this complex and emotionally resonant novel about a Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.

Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice-cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.


The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Educator Guide, available here.


⭐ Kirkus Reviews

"Debut author Ferguson, who is Métis and White, touches on intergenerational family suffering at the hands of the state, mental health, substance abuse, racism, sexual harassment and assault, and missing and murdered Indigenous women—all with nuance and care."

⭐ Horn Book

"Young adult readers can relate to the struggles Lou is facing as she navigates her transition from high school to college, and also use them as a conversation starter about race, identity, sexuality, dating, and friendship."

⭐ Publisher's Weekly

"In a layered first-person portrayal of a young Indigenous woman navigating the edge of adulthood, Ferguson (who is Métis and white) tackles necessary issues—of identity and sexuality alongside colonialism, generational trauma, racism, physical and sexual assault, and substance reliance—through well-wrought, complicated characterizations and prose that sings with poetry: 'Summer arrives to the prairies slow—and stays for such a short time.'"

⭐ BookPage

"In The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, Jen Ferguson (Border Markers) portrays one weighty subject after another, including Lou’s exploration of her sexuality, her relationship to her Métis heritage, her quest to save her family’s ice cream shack, her father’s threats and her burgeoning relationship with King. Each of these storylines could easily fill a whole novel, but Ferguson impressively blends them all together in a complex depiction of one teenager’s struggle to find her center when every aspect of her life seems on the verge of collapse."

⭐ Booklist

"Ferguson, herself Michif/Métis and white, boldly writes on many challenging topics, including racism, physical violence, sexual identity, sexual assault, and teen alcohol use. Lou is complex, smart, and honest, and a narrator readers will trust, love, and learn from as she works to repair friendships and gain security for her treasured family."

Selected Press, Interviews & Blog Posts
A NPR Best Book of 2022
Lili at Utopia State of Mind: "Interview with Jen Ferguson"
Jessie Wiegand WGRT's LIMElight: "Who Is Telling the Stories of Indigenous People?"
Trisha Collopy for Star Tribune: "Books for slow days"
Caitlyn Paxson for NPR: "5 YA books that offer a nuanced reading experience for summer"
Indigo's Pick of the Month
The Fold Kids 2022 Summer Reading List
Michele Kirichanskaya for Geeks Out: "Interview with Jen Ferguson"
Newportbury Literary Festival Panel: "Secrets and Family Ties: Jen Ferguson and Grace Shim on Their Debut Novels"
AJ Eversole for Cynsations Blog: "Jen Ferguson on What She Has Learned As A Writer"
Shelly Irwin's The WGVU Morning Show: "Jen Ferguson, discusses her latest work"
Arroe Collins Like It's Live:
"Jen Ferguson Releases The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
Cyrus Webb's and Conversations Live: "Author Jen Ferguson Talks The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
We Need Diverse Books: "Ferguson’s Debut The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is a Romance That Refuses Simplification"
YA Books Central: "Author Chat with Jen Ferguson"
The Nerd Daily: "Read The First Chapter of Jen Ferguson's The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
Native News Online: "A Powerful Novel Featuring a Métis Teen Girl"
Teen Librarian Toolbox: "Let’s Talk About Coming Out (in Life and Fiction), a guest post by Jen Ferguson"
The Horn Book's 2022 Summer Reading: High School

Buzzfeed's 44 New LGBTQA+ YA Novels You Need This Spring
Book Riot's Your Guide to Spring 2022 YA Books: April-June
Kirku's 10 Anticipated YA Books To Look for in 2022


Please visit the Border Markers page for more information.