Sweat, a myth/realism crossover novel set in Northern Ontario, blends Indigenous myth, collective memory, and harsh social reality. The stories of two contemporary Indigenous women—one leading a life of poverty and the other of privilege—are braided together around a mythic chorus of grandmothers who frame and share their experience of motherhood, adoption, addiction, sexual abuse, disruption, guilt, and body narrative.
Jolene is alone and pregnant, and dealing with memories of sexual trauma and motherlessness. Knowing she is not able to care for them, Jolene gives her twin babies up for adoption. Roxanne, a painter, having lost a baby that she desperately wanted, sets her hopes on adopting an Anishinaabe newborn, and, unaware, she adopts Jolene’s twins. Years later, both women, driven by inadequacy and guilt, but also by resilience and survival, embark on healing journeys—Jolene through the Ojibwe sweatlodge; Roxanne through painting—that will bring their lives to a point of intersection.
Lesley Belleau is an Anishnaabekwe writer from Ketegaunseebee Garden River First Nation (Ojibwe), near Bawating/Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Lesley lives in Peterborough where she is completing her PhD in Indigenous Studies at Trent. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. She has sat on arts juries and won numerous writing grants and academic awards, including from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council. In interviews, Leanne Simpson lists Lesley as a talented emerging Indigenous writer.