Today, I retired my best-selling book, a novella entitled Throwaway Child, and here’s why.
I wrote Throwaway Child in 2012 as an attempt to bring awareness of the Canadian Native residential “schools” to the fore. At the time, I was still reeling from the fact that this travesty was left out of most history courses. I had not learned of this dark chapter in Canadian history until I took a course on Native education in university in the late 80s, and I was shocked, to say the least.
If you have not read it, Throwaway Child follows the case of a child’s skeleton found in the basement of a building that was once used as a Native residential “school.” It follows forensic anthropologist Palmer Richardson, archaeologist Molly McBride, and police detective Michael Crestwood (also featured in The Mummy Wore Combat Boots and Phase Shift) as they investigate what led to the child’s death and burial. It has been in publication for nearly ten years and has sold the most copies out of any of my other books, but given the fact that the murderer proves to be another Indigenous child at the school, and in light of recent events, I have decided to retire the story.
You see, the children interred at the residential schools were the victims of such abuse that to make the murderer (accidental though it may be) Indigenous and a child no longer seems fitting. This is particularly true in the wake of the discovery of so many unmarked graves of Indigenous children who lost their lives while inmates at these “schools.” I cannot justify turning an innocent victim of systemic genocide, cultural or otherwise, into the perpetrator of the very crime being visited on so many others like her. I also cannot help but wonder if the story wouldn’t have been more satisfying if I’d put Palmer in charge of excavating one of the mass grave sites to determine the abuse that had been visited on the untold numbers of children who never left the “schools.” Imagine how much more satisfying the story would have been had it climaxed in handcuffing an administration-level official who had either participated in the travesty or turned a blind eye to the abuse.
It is for these reasons that I have decided to unpublish Throwaway Child with my apologies for falling short of accomplishing the very goal I set out to meet with it’s publication.