Cover Image: Highway of Tears

Highway of Tears

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Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for this eGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Jessica McDiarmid's debut true crime novel tackles the tough topic of murdered young women who have disappeared throughout the years. However, these aren't just any young women, they are aboriginals. These poor young women disappeared on what is known as The Highway of Tears located in Canada. The book gives insight into the road itself and the disappearance of some of these women. There were some who were found dead and there were others who were unfortunately never found. This heartbreaking story tells not only of the disappearances, but of the anguish and agony the families go through over their missing loved ones wondering if they will ever see their family member alive again. McDiarmid's novel also highlights the injustices these women faced. There were no helicopter searches. No trained search dogs. No public outcry. No publicity whatsoever. Yet, when a young white female went missing all of these things were put in place to help try and find her and return her safely to her family. These aboriginal families did all that they could to try and find their loved ones, but were turned away with excuses being given and resources being left untouched. 

This story is hard to read and I had to step away from it a couple times. It is a good true crime read and will open your eyes to the racial bias and injustices of these poor women.  McDiarmid is a fantastic investigative journalist and she dug deep into the story of The Highway of Tears and really conveyed a sad yet compelling story. She artfully mixed story with facts and I felt like this book was the product of a Dateline or 20/20 expose. I really enjoyed the fact that there were specific examples given, it made the book even more realistic and it allowed for me to connect in a way I might not have been able to had it just been a general story. 

One thing I think is of important note is the fact that this book is very statistic heavy. I personally thought it really cemented the gravity of the story, but I can see how it might be too much for some. The statistics also helped present how much the Canadian justice system failed these poor young women.
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This true crime book is the first by journalist Jessica McDiarmid. She tackles the sad, yet powerful topic of the many missing and murdered young aboriginal females who have disappeared through the years along the road that is called The Highway of Tears in Canada. It gives some good background on the road and on the young women who have disappeared.. Some were eventually found dead, others never were found at all, leaving the families in agony, always to wonder about their loved one. The pain is only intensified when occasionally a young white female would go missing and the response would be so great to help the family search. It just exaggerated the size of the canyon of difference between what happened when an aboriginal family needed help after their child went missing, namely not much. No great outpouring of people and sympathy and funds for flyers and a reward. No helicopters or trained search dogs. Many mostly ignored for the first couple of days, turned away with excuses.

This is a really good read with true crime, racial bias and injustice, and more. You can see that the author has really done a deep dive on the subject   Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jessica McDiarmid, and the publisher.
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This book is heartbreaking, captivating, and so important. Very heavy, but it's a heavy subject. I'm so happy I got the opportunity to read this.
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First thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wow what an amazing book and stunned that this is the authors debut.  An eye opening journey into the lives and the history of Highway 16 in British Columbia, Canada.  I have heard about the Highway of Tears through some documentaries and such but like most people didn't pay much attention to it.

You need to!  As a society we should be ashamed to not only have let this happen but continue to let it happen.  The author does a terrific job of balancing the stories of some of the lost souls and their families as well as telling the history of the Highway and the constant struggle of getting action taken.

This is a must read - I couldn't put it down and I recommend you don't either.
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Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

I don’t know when I first heard about The Highway of Tears (Highway 16 in BC, from Prince George to Prince Rupert). Most likely when I was reading about women dying on the border between the US and Mexico (there are parallels). I also know that it is more of sign than an abnormality both in the US and Canada. While I have read a few books on the subject, Jessica McDiarmid’s book is one of the best.

McDiarmid covers not only some of the cases that make up the Highway of Tears, what is more important, she spends time placing the murders in context and showing the families as more than just victims, and how such families are really not disposable no matter what society thinks. McDiarmid also presents the viewpoint of police as well as the reasons for the far less than cordial relationships between the Indigenous Community and police. She also details the various community efforts to get answers.

But if you are picking up this book, you know that the story isn’t a happy one.

It is to McDiarmid’s credit that she not only presents the victims as real people whose absence greatly affects those around. The taking one life impacts a community and that is detailed. More importantly, the history of the area in general and in terms of Indigenous populations as well as their treatment at the hands of the government. She also refers to other cases, such as the Pickton murders and the Gilbert Paul Jordan murders. The Highway of Tears isn’t quite as unique as you may hope it to be. The report that came out at the end of the summer was not referred to in this digital ARC, not surprising given the time frame.

In part, the book does also challenge us to do better – not only terms of Canada and the Indigenous Women there but also those in the United States because there really isn’t that much difference unless it is that Canada situation is drawing more national and international attention.

McDiarmid’s writing is engrossing and she carries the reader well. She lets the emotions of the people speak for themselves instead of trying gilding them with flowery phrases. It is the language that makes the details of the book far more chilling.
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3 "empathic, well-researched but much rewriting/reorganizing needed" stars !!

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Atria Books for a copy of this e-book in exchange for my review.

There are thousands of unsolved cases of missing and/or murdered aboriginal women and adolescent girls across Canada. This is a very dark stain on our country and needed to be addressed since Colonial times. I am aghast that our refugees are given a fair number of opportunities while our indigenous people have subpar healthcare, few addiction resources and a hypervigilance on taking the children away from caregivers. The poverty on some of the reservations is abysmal and there continues to be horrible victim blaming on these first nations.

This book focuses on a number of women that have gone missing or murdered in Northern British Columbia. The author compassionately and empathetically tells many of the stories through the eyes of families and loved ones. There are wonderful photographs of both the women and families and my heart broke over and over again on their pain, their struggle and their grief.

The author also in a balanced way examines the constraints and inadequacies of our RCMP, government agencies and social service organizations. There is some history and sociology thrown in to give a fuller picture of why Indigenous peoples continue to be impoverished, victimized and vilified.

This book could have and should have been five stars except that much of the writing was middling, the stats could have been presented in tables and the flow from facts to narrative could have been more artfully and compellingly done. This detracted from the immense importance of this topic.

The research and interviews are complete. The finished product is not.

May these womens' souls be blessed and rest at peace.
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This book is as much a treatise on the inner workings of the RCMP and its failings as it is the story of the young Indigenous women who have been kidnapped and murdered along a fateful strip of highway in British Columbia. The stories of these women and the testimony of their very often broken families are only made worse by the prevalent racism and laissez-faire attitudes of the police force that was supposed to solve the crimes. An incredibly in-depth and absolutely heart-wrenching look not just at the tales of these crimes but at the insurmountable odds native peoples seem to face when it comes to getting justice.
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Huge thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for gifting me a copy of this book.

This was such a heartbreaking read. I had to step away and take breaks while reading, therefore it took longer than it normally would for me to read a book of this size. Women and girls began disappearing along Highway 16 back in the 1990s, and now, decades later, the estimated number of connected cases is now up to 4,000. 4,000 missing or murdered women and teenage girls. Let that sink in.

I wouldn’t even call what the police did an “investigation”. These women and their families were completely failed by those sworn to protect them. I am the mother of two daughters. I have sisters. And I cannot fathom one of my vulnerable loved ones disappearing, never to be looked for, never given much of a thought. I can’t imagine the police not taking me seriously when I demand they search for my daughter or my sister. These families had no one to count on but themselves. I think it is absolutely disgusting the way these missing and murdered women were treated. Leads weren’t followed, tips weren’t followed up on or were tossed aside and deemed irrelevant. They refused to say the cases were connected.

This was a true act of racism — the fact that many of these women came from less than favorable backgrounds (drugs, prostitution, bad family life) caused the police to throw their hands up and claim they had just run away or that this was just the kind of thing that happens to someone when they live that type of lifestyle.

McDiarmid is a fantastic investigative journalist. She dug deep into these stories and made me feel so much sadness for the victims and their families. Reading this book felt like watching an episode of 20/20, with the perfect mix of hard facts and a storyline. I loved that she gave us specific examples of victims so that we could put names (and faces, in fact -- the book contains photos of each of the women written about) to these cases and truly grasp what their families had to go through. Some of these women have never been found.

This book is very statistic heavy, so do keep that in mind when reading. I didn’t expect as many statistics, but including it assisted in painting a clear pictures of the systemic racism and discrimination against Indigenous people in that area of Canada. The statistics were also helpful in piecing together just how badly these families were failed by everyone in the Canadian justice system.

This was an eye-opening read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes true crime or nonfiction.

I will be posting my review to Goodreads, my blog, and Instagram on 10/24. I will post to Amazon on the publication date.
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Informative, meticulously researched and heartbreaking, this book tells the story of girls and women that are all too often overlooked when it comes to victims of violent crime. It's obvious that this author is passionate, and it's reflected in every sentence. This was enlightening and full of information even jaded true crime readers will find moving. Great read.
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This is a book long overdue, about the terrible missing and murdered Native women of British Columbia, Canada. The book is well written and covers many of the victims lives in a personal way, which makes the tragedies all the more terrible. Everyone who has half a conscience should read this. We all have to acknowledge the fact that if we live in North America it's because the Natives were pushed around, pushed out and killed on a massive scale, and are still victimized.  It exposes the incredibly lax attitude of the RCMP.
While the book is excellent I think it weighs itself down at the beginning of each chapter by overloading us with statistics. "X% of Native blah blah blah", "while whites comprise the minority of....the percentage of Natives is...." Goes on like this for pages.
Personally I find this extremely boring. Two sentences at the top of each chapter would have not just sufficed but they would have had far more impact. Having to drag my feet through all the percentages etc is no fun.
As it should be, this book is not a self help book for Native Americans who have troubles. But on a personal level it is clear to the reader that it's time for Native peoples to change. Not to become White, no, not at all. But it is time for elders to recognize that Native people have a genetic problem with alcohol. It's time for each and every member to recognize that having children with virtually no income is a disaster leading to death. Thank the determined people who fought to get their lands and rights back. Now, rebuild your culture.
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Astonishing, timely, and painful. McDiarmid presents a fully human account of the victims of the Highway of Tears, and details the failures and societal contributions to the tragedy. This poignant account of the plight of indigenous women is visceral without being heavy-handed. Recommended for fans of true crime, indigenous stories, and those invested in social justice.
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McDiarmid does her very best to give a huge swath of the victims a lot of time on the page, letting us get to know them, the hardships that they faced in life, and the lives and people that were left behind after their disappearances and/or murders. Far too often have these women been lumped together as a group, which in turn dehumanizes them and makes them more of an idea than actual people, but McDiarmid is very careful to give them each a voice. I also really, really appreciated that McDiarmid doesn't shy away from the social injustices that First Nations face in Canada, and how a Canadian society, government, and criminal justice system DEEPLY entrenched in racism has created conditions that has made these populations incredibly vulnerable.

HIGHWAY OF TEARS is a must read. It's well written, it's a story that needs to be told, and it shines a light on an ongoing and terrible injustice.
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After starting this and reading other negative reviews, I’ve decided to skip this one and move on to other books that appeal to me more.
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Highway of Tears is an important look at racial relations, their history, and impact on the current time. It provides the perfect balance of background information with current crime investigation so the reader can see the full scope of the issues. You will get to know the victims and their families so you can see and feel the impact of the crimes. There is quite a lot of information here that makes for a very interesting read.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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