Digging for Philip

A review of Digging For Philip by Greg Jackson-davis

Published on April 1, 2004

Digging For Philip
Greg Jackson-davis

Great Plains Publications
$16.95
paper
248pp
1-894283-42-2

Philip, the protagonist in this novel for older teens, has lost his beloved father in a tragic accident. His less-than-beloved mother survived, and he cannot forgive her for this. He is also a social misfit, weak and clumsy.

On his mother’s island in Lake of the Woods, lonely, bullied by neighbouring young people, and unhappy, Philip digs up a mound and unleashes the spirit of an Anishinaabe who was buried there two centuries before. The angry spirit forces Philip to perform ceremonies for Natives, victims of colonization who are unable to travel to the Land of Souls. Both Philip and the spirit are filled with contempt for each other’s race, and both have to learn tolerance and forgiveness.

By mid-book it seems that stereotypes are taking over, where Native equals Good and White equals Evil, but further along Jackson-Davis strikes a better balance. Digging for Philip ends with an emotive description of forgiveness and healing. mRb

Margaret Goldik is a former editor of the Montreal Review of Books.

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