Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 18
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 13 to 18
It’s the 1960s – the time for equal rights, peace, and love. But for Ellen Manery, it’s the time to work hard and finish high school early. She’d rather be helping out at the university’s medical lab than listening to rock and roll and hanging out with the kids at her high school. Isolated and driven, Ellen feels like she was born an outsider. And what if you live in a small town, where change is slow in coming? Tony Paul knows what it’s like to be on the outside. Living on an Indian reserve near a small town, he goes to the local high school, but his heritage and the color of his skin stand him apart. Ellen and Tony meet when Ellen’s parents decide to leave city life behind and move to the town. Right away, they are drawn to each other’s difference. Used to being on their own in high school, together they find a happiness and strength that allow them to face the sexism and prejudice around them. But can Ellen and Tony be more than friends? Are they right to think that a girl can study science and become a doctor, and that an Indian boy can go to college? Together they’ll find out.
About the author
Donalda Reid, a retired elementary school principal, spends her time traveling the world, writing, drawing, and painting. Profits from the sale of her memoir Captive, A Survival Story, the story of her experience being captured by Hutu rebels in the Congo in 1998, help support African Grandmothers affected by HIV/AIDS through the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.
- Short-listed, Ontario Library Association White Pine Award (Fiction)
Well-researched and well-written ... This delightful book would be fun background reading for any social-science course. Plot analysis and thematic development are also strong features of this novel.
The Way It Is isn't just another book about racial discrimination. Donalda Reid makes it relatable; she doesn't just point out facts, she makes the reader live them.
Donalda Reid shows Tony and Ellen's friendship as one of equals who respect each other. The open ending shows them stronger than when they met, able to face the changing times and pursue their dreams.
CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials
Vivid descriptions enabled the characters to come alive from the pages, as well as the woods surrounding the resort run by Ellen's family. The writing is solid, the plot is smooth and the message is unmistakable, though it never ventures toward reading like a tract or a history textbook.
Bookish In A Box blog
Ellen and Tony, supportive of each other, succeed not because it makes a good ending, but because, as the novel develops, we see them mature and earn their places in a time when this achievement would have been very difficult for both a young woman and a young man who was Indian.
Deakin Memorial Collection of Children's Literature Newsletter
The novel is eye-opening and insightful, especially for readers who may be unfamiliar with the history of Canadian Indians (or Native Americans in general). The dynamic between Tony and Ellen is great; they get to know each other in a way that is sweet and realistic. Neither of them are made to appear as victims; both encounter sexism and racism, but they face it and stand up to their beliefs.
Things She Read blog