Just Pretending is Bird-Wilson’s first short story collection, though she has previously published a book of nonfiction. This Métis author works for he Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatoon. In this short story collection the question of identity appears in all the 22 stories. Additional themes include belonging/not belonging, Aboriginal adoption, loss and abandonment, regret and insecurity. A deadbeat dad tries to reconnect with his daughter after 22 years away. A selfish poet has been scarred by an upbringing that leaves him emotionally distant from his children and spouse. A pot-smoking middle-aged man undertakes a modest quest for meaning following a brush with mortality. A fourteen-year-old girl struggles to come to terms with her feelings of abandonment.
The characters are often fragile, sometimes unlikeable, but ultimately can be identified or sympathized with. At the centre of the stories are notions of identity and belonging, and the complex relationships between children and parents, both those who are real and those who are just pretending. This book was Shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and won these Winner of these 2014 Saskatchewan Book Awards: University of Regina Book of the Year; SaskPower Fiction Award; Rasmussen, Rasmussen & Charowsky Aboriginal Peoples' Writing Award; First Nations University of Canada Aboriginal Peoples' Publishing Award. It is longlisted in the 2017 First Nation Communities Read list.