My sister gave me the award-winning The Marrow Thieves for Christmas, knowing how keenly I feel about Indigenous issues. I was about a quarter of the way through when I heard a snippet on CBC saying that Jully Black would be defending this book for Canada Reads! So I felt cool by association (with Canada’s national bibliophilic geek-out). Jully and The Marrow Thieves made it through the first day’s vote… I’m rooting for them to win!
Title: The Marrow Thieves
Author: Cherie Dimaline
Other works by this author: The novels Red Rooms and The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy, and the short story collection A Gentle Habit, as well as the story “Seven Gifts for Cedar.”
Recommended by: My sister, I guess! And maybe the Governor General, considering that The Marrow Thieves won that award for English-language children’s literature in 2017.
Genre: Futuristic dystopian forest-trekking YA fiction.
Main characters: Frenchie (the narrator), and the cobbled-together family of fellow fugitives he travels with, including leader/Elder Miigwans and love interest Rose.
Plot intro: After the climate-change apocalypse, most North Americans have lost the ability to dream, and are hunting Indigenous people for their bone marrow, said to restore dreaming.
Opinions: I first heard about this book during a carpool, from a guy who kinda liked it but was rather dismissive. Since I found most of what he said during the ride to be arrogant and/or wrong, I had a hunch it would be a great book. 🙂 And I was right!
A quotation I liked: Most of my favourite moments in this book would be spoilers. I will say that Dimaline writes beautifully, treading the unlikely line between imagistic poetry and careless teenage speech. Also, this book contains what might just be the sexiest non-sex scene I’ve ever read.
What sticks with me: How much I want to shift this future. Not just the environmental catastrophe part, though of course I’m hoping we can avoid such collapse. And I’m not worried that the bone marrow harvest will actually be a thing. But Canada – and Turtle Island in general – are at a turning point right now, in which all of us need to understand what Canada did to Indigenous Peoples, so as not to repeat history. Not just residential schools, but extermination and marginalization of all kinds, the Sixties Scoop, the current child apprehension crisis, and of course the racism that has lasted from the moment of first contact to the present day.
Recommended to: All of us sharing this continent – but especially Canadian youth. We can take Indigenous-Canadian relations somewhere new and better.
To sum up: Gorgeously written with joy and tragedy, suspense and humour, and a lot of love for its beautiful characters. (I gave it five stars on Goodreads.)