Surviving the City

The Debwe Series

Natasha Donovan, Tasha Spillett

fiction comics young adult
emotional informative slow-paced

56 pages | first published 2019

Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. However, when Dez’s grandmother becomes too sick, Dez is told she can’t stay with her anymore. With the threat of a group home looming, Dez can’t bring herself to go home and disappears. Miikwan is devastated, and the wound of her missing mother resurfaces. Will Dez’s community find her before it’s too late? Will Miikwan be able to cope if they don’t?

What the community thinks

summary of 166 ratings (see reviews)

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emotional 81%
informative 51%
hopeful 40%
reflective 33%
sad 33%
challenging 29%
dark 25%
tense 22%
inspiring 14%
funny 3%


fast 61%
medium 26%
slow 11%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 50% | A mix: 33% | Plot: 16%

Strong character development?

No: 47% | It's complicated: 28% | Yes: 19% | N/A: 4%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 90% | It's complicated: 4% | No: 4%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 85% | It's complicated: 9% | No: 4%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

No: 52% | Yes: 21% | It's complicated: 15% | N/A: 10%

Average rating