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Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly | ARC #BookReview, #FirstNations #Violence #MeToo



Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly

Rating: 3 stars 

Published: August 27, 2019 

Publisher: Viking 

Pages: 304 

Genres: non fiction, true crime, mystery

Recommend to fans of: true crime books, learning about violence against Indigenous & First Nations women, constantly learning 



A gripping account of the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city.

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.
Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina’s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.
Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.
Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.
The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.



Thank you to NetGalley, Viking, and Joanna Jolly for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

– the background and non judgmental explanation of the life circumstances that led Tina and her family to their current life situations
– The detective who was working to solve her murder.

– the book brings to light the important topic of violence against First Nations women

– A possible dislike for some people (not for me though) — the descriptions of the crime and her body when discovered. This is to be expected since it’s a true crime book.
– Nothing specific to dislike, but nothing was particularly amazing either.

Wish that:
– It held my attention more. The overall topic is interesting, but not phenomenal in the presentation.
– The story had lived up to its potential. It was such a complex, informative, must be discussed story, but overall it read as a little boring, especially for a true crime mystery book.

Overall, an okay book about an important but terrible event that occurred in real life. I’m so glad that Tina Fontaine’s murder is being discussed in the context of violence against First Nations women. An important topic, but unfortunately this book doesn’t do it justice in my opinion.


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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)



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