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Red River Girl

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Red river

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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It’s a really good true story. My heart just breaks for Tina’s family. I just can’t imagine the pain they have gone through. I recommend this book

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Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Journalist Joanna Jolly takes readers back to 2014 when the body of 15 year old Tina Fontaine was pulled from the Red River in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. The investigation into her death would spark a nationwide demand for the Canadian government to conduct an inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered cases involving indigenous women.

This book looks at the brief life of Tina Fontaine, the investigation into her death, and a full access look into the Canadian system.

With the recent findings of the national inquiry that the cases of missing and murdered women is in fact a "genocide," ( June 2019), books, such as, Red River Girl, could certainly help further understanding.

Goodreads Review 14/07/19
Publication Date 27/08/19

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Being from Winnipeg, Manitoba the events that took place in this novel are all too familiar. I was eager to read how a non-Canadian would unfold the tragic murder of Tina Fontaine. I felt every emotion when reading Jolly’s account, but I feel that she did the investigation justice. She thoroughly researched, and interviewed providing an unbiased account of the murder and subsequent investigation into finding and charging the murderer of 15 year old Tina Fontaine. Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women is a horrible truth that is plaguing our country and a book of this caliber does well to highlight what is gong on here in Canada to the rest of the world. It is about time that action is taken to put a stop to these crimes and to solve the ones that are haunting the families of their missing and/or murdered loved ones. I am just sorry that it took the death of Tina Fontaine to put these wheels in motion but I hope that her loss is not in vain.

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Red River Girl is a compelling look at the murder of a young Canadian girl, who was also indigenous. Jolly revels indepth research and interviews as investigators strive to deduce who the culprit was. The author puts the murder in the broader context of assaults on indigenous Canadians. It's a fascinating, yet sad murder mystery.

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I have been learning more about the crimes against Indigenous women in the US and Canada. It's absolutely horrifying how badly they are treated; the rate of abuse and death they encounter compared to their % of the population and how little is done to get justice/protect them before crimes are committed. Reading this book was part of continuing my education and trying to understand more on an individual level.

Jolly writes very well, is succinct and you can feel both her passion and her efforts to be very factual in her presentation. I think the book goes a little further into the investigation than it does into the life of Tina Fontaine but it does a credible job of trying to cover both. The investigators took this crime seriously and you can see they pulled out all stops to ensure Tina was not just another statistic.

I would have loved to have heard from some of the jurors after the end to try to understand their thinking. It doesn't feel like it's a full book but feels more like a very well done long form article.

It's an interesting book for true crime readers; might be an interesting entry point to non fiction for regular readers of police procedurals as it gets very deep into the specific undercover process here.

I received an e-arc from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.

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Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for gifting me an ARC of this heartbreaking book in exchange for an honest review.

Living in the United States, I was not aware of the recent murder and discovery of Tina Fontaine, a 15 year old Indigenous teenager from Manitoba Canada. On the morning of August 17, 2014 Tina’s body was found wrapped in a duvet and submerged in the muddy waters of Winnipeg’s Red River. She had been reported as missing for 6 weeks. BBC reporter JoAnna Jolly has written a compelling, extensive, and detailed account of Tina’s early family life, the obstacles she faced as a child born to addict parents, her encounters with child welfare services and the tragic last weeks of her life. This story was gut wrenching and a crash course on Canada’s systematic failure and neglect of the Indigenous people of the region. Continuing with her research, Jolly chronicles the year long extensive murder investigation and ultimate arrest. It was fascinating to get such a behind the scenes look at the police probe and eventual court proceedings. I literally could not put this book down. My heart broke for the travesty that befell Tina and the other young girls like her.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime, nonfiction, women’s rights and policy making/ politics.

My only quibble; at times the book got bogged down in too much background information.

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Tina Fontaine's murder made headlines across Canada. At a time when the nation was talking about Truth and Reconciliation regarding the history of residential schools, it was ignoring the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across the country. But the discovery of 15 year old Tina was a wake up call for many.

This book looks at the short, tragic life of Tina Fontaine, one that echos the lives of many Indigenous women across Canada. Their survival in this country is often a struggle, filled with violence, drugs, and mental health issues. This is a country that continually harms Indigenous women rather than healing them and that is what we see in Tina's story.

The book also gives a thorough look at the investigation into her death, their focus on one man, and the lengths they went to to get a confession. It is a fascinating look at the justice system as well as the conditions in which Indigenous people face a higher rater of victimization and incarceration.

This book is a must-read and yet another wake up call that this country needs.

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I am a super fan of true crime books and I was happy with the way this one is written. There are not a lot of characters so it is easy to follow. I like that the book goes into all aspects of this murder including location, parties involved, arrest, and follow up. .

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On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg's Red River. She was wrapped in a duvet and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a detailed account of the investigation of Tina's murder through the backdrop of the treatment of Indigenous people in Winnipeg, and throughout Canada.

Joanna did an excellent job describing the life of Tina and the many ways that she was failed by those that could have helped her. Through the story of Tina, we are made to see her as more than a statistic but as a young girl that was tragically murdered and the affect this terrible act has had on her family, the citizens of Winnipeg, and the community of Indigenous people who experience this loss all too frequently.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime or those that are interested in human rights activism.

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada, Viking and Joanna Jolly for this ARC of Red River Girl. All opinions are my own.

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Thank you NET GALLEY for my copy

Tina Fontaine could be a 100.000 girls in the US but her it takes on the plight of Indigenous people in the great North of which Tina is one.

I enjoyed the crime novel portion which was the springboard for the author's larger issue of the plight of Indigenous people in and around Canada.

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RED RIVER GIRL is a fascinating story about the murder of Tina Fontaine, a fifteen year old Indigenous girl in Winnipeg, and the epidemic of missing and murdered girls in Canada. It’s a well-written police procedural-type narrative told in two branches: one about the detective who was responsible for investigating Tina’s murder, and another about how the Canadian government underserves and often endangers its Indigenous youth. It is a stunning indictment of Canada’s failure.

Jolly is a BBC journalist who reported on the phenomenon of missing Indigenous girls turning up dead in Winnipeg’s Red River. She first became interested in this story when a colleague mentioned a story about a murdered Indigenous girl and said, “Wow, Canadians are so racist.” I’m sure we would all turn our heads at that kind of a statement - a colleague of mine did the same when I told her about this book - because we think that Canadians are the epitome of kindness, politeness, and welcoming. But in Canada, much like in the U.S., Indigenous people are at the margins of society, pushed to reserves in places even more desolate than you could imagine. Jolly relays stories of Catholic schools built on Native reserves where boarding children were subjected to disgusting sexual, verbal, and physical abuse from the nuns and priests at the schools. Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem for Indigenous people of all ages - often due to a lack of quality education and viable jobs in the remote areas of the reserves. Many Indigenous children are put in foster homes that are under-resourced and underserved. Throughout the book, you hear incidences of police brutality, targeting, and patterns of discrimination, much like that faced by the black community in America. The police turn a blind eye to the hundreds of missing or murdered Indigenous women reported, and communities are left betrayed and heartbroken. Canadians have an unspeakable hatred toward Indigenous; a particularly disgusting quote that stuck with me was a Canadian man who said that any Indigenous women who were murdered deserved to die because they were all whores. Jolly estimates that 3000 Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in the past three decades.

Tina Fontaine was a bright, focused girl who grew up in a foster home on the Sagkeeng reserve with a loving foster mother and younger sister. She was close to her father, who was plagued with alcohol and drug addiction. She loved young children and dreamed of being a teacher or caretaker when she got older - a dream she never got to achieve. When she was maybe thirteen, her father suddenly passed away, and Tina was heartbroken. Normally a good student, she started slacking off at school, sneaking out of the house, and doing drugs. She ran away from home several times, forming a sudden desire to get closer to her absentee mother, who lived in Winnipeg. She ran off to the big city, where her drug-addicted mother was unable to take care of her. She soon became transient, living on the street, in temporary shelters, or on other people’s couches.

In August 2014, Tina’s body was found in the Red River, tied up in a duvet cover and weighted down by stones. Police began investigating, but any physical evidence was likely washed away by the river. Once this information was released, the public latched onto Tina’s death as the final straw - the Canadian police needed to finally do something about the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women. Tina’s death coincided with the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and a movement similar to Black Lives Matter arose around Tina, with Indigenous women posting pictures of themselves with the hashtag #AmINext. She was the symbol of the Canadian government’s failure to take care of its Indigenous citizens.

The story moves to Detective John O’Donovan, the lead investigator on Tina’s murder case. O’Donovan was determined to solve her case and bring justice to Tina, one of the few people like him on the Winnipeg police force. Despite his determination, this case was going to be hard to solve - Tina was a transient youth whose friends were often addicted to drugs or alcohol, making their memories and testimonies unreliable. It was extraordinarily hard to track her whereabouts.

Eventually, O’Donovan and his team put together a timeline and identify suspects. O’Donovan is convinced that one suspect in particular, Raymond Cormier, is their guy. Eventually, they put together an elaborate Mr. Big operation on Cormier, an undercover mission in which a cool guy befriends the subject and gets the subject to think that he is going to be inducted into a criminal gang. In order to make it in the gang, the “Mr. Big” boss confronts the subject and says that the subject needs to confess to any crimes he’s committed. It’s better for the gang boss to know about the crimes so that he can protect the subject from charges, so goes the operation. The subject confesses to the crime and it’s recorded in the room. Mr. Big schemes have been outlawed in the U.S. and the U.K., but are still used in Canada, although juries sometimes have dismissed confessions procured from Mr. Big operations as coerced or false. They’re expensive ploys, with dozens of undercover agents involved and recording devices used at every stage. It’s a highly invasive technique and throughout the book, I was amazed at how this is still legal. However, you understand the immense amount of pressure that O’Donovan and his team faced to solve this case - it became an international news story, with Justin Trudeau launching an investigative commission of inquiry into the issue.

The book is fast-paced and intriguing, and Jolly makes you feel like you are there during the investigation. She consistently quotes recordings and transcripts, and received an amazing level of detail from O’Donovan. Despite you thinking that you know where the book is going, she sets the end up to be a surprise, and I was genuinely on the edge of my seat to see whether or not Cormier would be convicted. Moreover, RED RIVER GIRL is an exposé on a topic that many are unfamiliar with - I had no idea the degree of this problem in Canada, and I was appalled to learn about it. Jolly does a great job of not making it a cut-and-dry issue: the Canadian police have done a deplorable job of addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, but the problems of addiction and transience make it very difficult to solve these cases. No matter what, the Canadian government has a responsibility to provide a better safety net and system of accountability for its Indigenous, so that murders of Indigenous women can be prevented in the first place.

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I cannot give this once enough stars or recommend it enough. So I'm just going to say read it. I will add though, if you're a fan of the podcasts Somebody Knows Something, Finding Chloe, or any other Canadian true crime podcasts you're the perfect reader for this.

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A topical book on a much under-reported issue, the murder and disappearances of indigenous women. This is a true crime look at the investigation around the murder of Tina Fontaine, a teen in Canada that is found murdered in the Red River area of Manitoba. Written by Joanna Jolly, a BBC reporter, the account describes the cultural and barriers around solving this and other homicides like it.

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Ms Jolly, a journalist with the BBC, looks at the murder of Tina Fountaine who was found in the Red River in Winnipeg in 2014. This book sheds an unflinching light on the way that deaths of Indigenous people are handled in Canada. It's completely heartbreaking.

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While Red River Girl by Joanna Jolly has the main focus on the disappearance and murder of fifteen-year-old Tina Fontaine, the book is much broader than that. Tina Fontaine was a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl in Canada, that like of so many other young women, found herself on city streets only to be exploited, abused and murdered.

Joanna Jolly not only provides an in-depth history of Tina Fontaine and those surrounding her, but also details the plight of the many Indigenous women of Canada that are too quick to be forgotten, or worse, ignored, in their existence and mistreatment. She also describes in detail the long, in-depth and creative investigation of what happened before and after Tina Fontaine's clothed corpse was found in the Red River in a knotted up duvet, weighted down with rocks.

All around, Red River Girl is a sad and distressing story, but one that is important to tell. Jolly's book is an excellent portrayal of what is often described as a "police procedural" while at the same time being more than that. The book avoids becoming a moralistic polemic while detailing the terrible indifference too many people have toward Indigenous people and is told in a well-researched, "just the facts" manner that enthralls the reader to carry on through the book even though the outcome of the investigation and trial of the suspect is revealed to the reader just a few pages into the prologue.

Highly recommended to those that enjoy in-depth, historical true crime books where each character, whether villainous or heroic, is researched, examined and detailed.

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Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine tells the tragic true story of Tina Fontaine, a fifteen-year-old Indigenous girl whose body was found in Winnipeg’s Red River on August 17, 2014. The book focuses primarily on the murder investigation conducted by the Winnipeg Police Homicide Unit, led by Sgt. John O’Donovan, but it also provides a glimpse into Tina’s short life and broader Indigenous issues in Canada. Tina’s death and the case that ensued shocked and outraged many people across Canada, especially Indigenous communities, and was the breaking point that resulted in increased activism and calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. The treatment of Indigenous people and the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada is not well-known around the world, as it goes against everything that Canada claims to stand for, and I sincerely hope that Red River Girl gains popularity and exposes the secret that Canada would rather keep quiet.

It has only been in the last few years that the magnitude of suffering experienced by Indigenous people in Canada has been recognized and acknowledged. Growing up in a small, rural town in Ontario, I was surrounded by people who held prejudiced and racist beliefs about Indigenous people, and I was never formally (or informally) taught about Indigenous history or culture. Research has found that children develop prejudices at an early age through socialization and exposure to misinformation about other cultures, and that prejudice is an inescapable consequence of living in a systematically racist society. Given this, it is no wonder that I developed my own prejudices against Indigenous people. When I started university, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about Indigenous affairs in Canada, which has allowed me to challenge my prejudices (as well as the prejudices of those around me). Now, I consider myself fairly well-educated about Indigenous issues, so the broader background information provided in this book did not come as a surprise to me. While the author, Joanna Jolly, provided this information throughout the book, I would have liked a short chapter at the start that provided a more in-depth overview of Indigenous issues in Canada, especially considering that many readers may not have any previous knowledge of the subject. Tina’s case does not exist in a vacuum – it is the result of a legacy of violence, neglect, and wrongdoing perpetrated by the Canadian government against Indigenous peoples – and it is important to understand how these factors contributed to Tina’s death.

At first, I was a little unsure about the fact that Jolly is not Indigenous, as I would have liked to see an #OwnVoices account penned by an Indigenous author. However, from my perspective, Jolly provided a respectful portrayal of Tina’s case and Indigenous affairs in Canada, and did not insert her own opinion into the narrative. Red River Girl was well-written, well-researched, and compelling, and I was never overwhelmed by or bogged down in the details, which can often happen in true crime books. Although it is an incredibly sad and frustrating case which does not have a happy ending, I appreciated the comprehensive account of Tina’s case and the murder investigation. I hope this book inspires readers, especially if they are Canadian, to learn more about Indigenous issues and to speak up against prejudices and the way our institutions continue to fail the Indigenous population.

In summary, Red River Girl is an engaging and important true crime account of Tina Fontaine’s short life and tragic death, which shines a light on broader Indigenous issues in Canada. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada/Viking for providing me with an eARC of Red River Girl in exchange for an honest review.

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I had to stare into space after finishing Red River Girl in order to reflect and reassemble myself. This book wrung me out. I remember the media attention in Canada after the death of Tina Fontaine (and the public outrage). The author presents her story honestly and with compassion. While no author writes without bias, I thought the narrative was void of unnecessary insertions of opinion. Jolly did an excellent job of stitching together what is known about Tina's last few days. This is a story I need to think about for longer.

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Red River Girl, a true story about a 15 yr old Indigenous girl, named Tina Fontaine, who was found by chance, dead in the Red River in Winnipeg, Canada on Aug 17, 2014. Not only does this book delve into the personal details of Tina's family, and life, which was so sad, but the lives of the Indigenous people of Canada. It was an eye opening book for me, as I had no idea of the suffering/racism the Indigenous people, endured, and still do. The women are especially treated horribly, and are sadly victims of many sexual assaults.
The Book was written by BBC Reporter, Joanna Jolly, who does an outstanding job in telling the story of Tina, her case, and the lives of the native people, bringing much needed attention to the heartbreaking lives these people have lived. Thanks so much @Netgalley @Penguin Random House, and of course, Joanna Jolly, for the chance to read this heartbreaking, but very informative book.

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This is such a heartbreaking true crime story of Tina Fontaine. It was hard to put down the book, I read it straight through.
As I was reading it, you could tell that the homicide department in Winnipeg expanded a LOT of man power and money trying to catch her killer. Yet, I was left wondering if perhaps they had narrowed their search too soon.
I was shocked at how many murders her poor family had endured before Tina's.
This was a good true crime book that really explores the ways in which the police tried to get a conviction in this case.

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