Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Young Adult Fiction Canada

Good for Nothing

by (author) Michel Noel

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2004
Canada, General (see also headings under Family), General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2004
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2004
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 15
  • Grade: 7 to 10
  • Reading age: 12 to 15


Winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction

The year is 1959, and fifteen-year-old Nipishish returns to his reserve in northern Quebec after being kicked out of residential school, where the principal tells him he's a good-for-nothing who, like all Indians, can look forward to a life of drunkenness, prison and despair.

The reserve, however, offers nothing to Nipishish. He remembers little of his late mother and father. In fact, he seems to know less about himself than the people at the band office. He must try to rediscover the old ways, face the officials who find him a threat, and learn the truth about his father's death.

About the author

Michel Noel is the author of several award-winning books for young people, including La ligne de trappe, which won the Governor General's Award and the Prix Alvine Belisle for the best children's book published in Quebec. Because his father worked for an international paper company, Michel grew up in the logging camps of northern Quebec, living alongside the Algonquian of Lac Rapide, Lac Victoria and Maniwaki. He now lives in Quebec City.

Michel Noel's profile page


  • Commended, IBBY Honor List
  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice
  • Winner, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

Editorial Reviews

[An] inspiring story by an authority on native affairs...

VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Michel Noel...knows his craft...the text is extremely accessible.


[Michel Noel] has crafted a story of pain and triumph, with both universal appeal and cultural authenticity. Tanaka's accomplished translation introduces an award-winning Canadian author to an English-speaking audience, and all libraries should take note.

School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Related lists