The Summer of
Bitter and Sweet
Winner of the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature – Text
A Nominee for the 2023 White Pine Award
A Finalist for the 2022 Golden Poppy Award for Young Adult
A NPR Best Book of 2022
An Indigo Top Ten Best Teen Book of 2022
A School Library Journal Best Young Adult Book of 2022
A Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction of 2022
A Finalist for the Great Reads Award 2022, Senior Shortlist
A Semi-Finalist in the 2022 Book Shimmy Awards, Mirrors & Windows and Here & Now
Nominated for the 2022 Cybils Awards, Young Adult Fiction
Tawnshi & Welcome to the Michif Creamery
In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, 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.
A Few Things About This Book
This book is about an ice cream shack, yes, but it’s also about the real traumas that teens face. There are discussions about and references to a violent sexual assault; instances of intimate partner abuse; instances of racism and physical assault toward Indigenous and Black teens; discussions of drug use; under-aged alcohol use.
This book centers the traumas faced by Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, and one narrative of the on-going human rights crisis, happening now in the colonial nations of Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico.
More broadly, this book includes discussion of generational trauma from residential schools, and the living, contemporary systems that overtook residential schools: the Sixties Scoop, the Millennial Scoop, and other instances of child welfare systems serving the needs of colonialism, such as birth alerts.
With the exception of one, unnamed cow, who is humanely euthanized off the page, nothing happens to any of the other dogs or the cows or other animals, this I promise. Homer and Mooreen, the udderly delightful Cowntessa de Pasteur, are okay.
Why do I tell you these things, mere moments before the story begins?
Because: More than anything, I care about you. Your heath, happiness, safety, and well-being matter more than reading this book.
If you’re not ready now, that’s okay. This book will always be here. If you’re never ready, that’s okay, too. If you’re reading and need to stop, guess what, totally okay. And I’m the author saying this, so believe me. I found healing writing Lou’s story, and if you do read it, I hope you find what you need too.