The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline
From the first nostalgic and tangible whiff of nacho Doritos that Frenchie shares with his brother to the last hopeful lines that set up the sequel, The Marrow Thieves becomes a shining example of what dystopian literature can be.
Set in a world not too far in our future we meet Frenchie as he is escaping Recruiters. He and his brother have been on the run since their parents disappeared. Alone in this terrifying world where only Native Americans can dream, sparing them from the insanity the rest of humanity is falling prey to. Native Americans are being hunted and murdered for their bone marrow, a cure that has become as terrifying as the problem itself. Picture an existence where you are running for your life from evil gym teachers (the Recruiters literally wear short shorts, gym tops, sneakers, and blow horrendous whistles, like if Ted Lasso was possessed).
As if that weren’t enough of a bleak landscape, the world has also fallen prey to changing ecosystems. Flooding, rain, mold, and rot are constant companions. After Frenchie is separated from his brother and succumbing to sickness he is rescued by a group of fellow travelers. Through his eyes we get to experience a life where you are always running, never finding a home, and everything is damp and falling apart. Led by Miigwans, an Indian elder, this group of survivors forms a family, complete with different lessons in hunting, tracking, and basic home tending.Miigs is a stoic yet gentle teacher, making sure each member of his “family” comes away with the power of knowing their Story as well as their heritage. .
As with any traveling group, Frenchie and his family find other survivors and he is tasked with learning that, as Miigwam says, “Not every Indian is an Indian.” Rose comes from a group where the walls she was able to put up around herself were fired from her gun and safety is a foreign concept. The baby in this family is RiRi, a precocious child who asks questions and is hungering to begin hearing her part of Story. This novel sets out at a brisk pace and never lets up, keeping the reader as breathlessly invested in their safety as the group is.
The dystopian details in this book are fantastic as is the atmosphere. Dimaline’s writing paints vivid pictures of a landscape that is at once bleak and also beautiful. The Canadian setting allows Dimaline to pull from historical fact, such as the Native American “schools” that were used to colonize earlier in the 1900s.. As this book was published in 2017, new horrors about these schools in Canada have come to light and add a very disturbing patina to this novel.
The Marrow Thieves
2017 – Dancing Cat Books an imprint of Cormorant Books Inc.
Previously published as Frenchie’s Coming-to Story : Theytus Editions 2016
Reviews: Kirkus Review
Awards: Canada Council for the Arts, Governor General’s Literary Awards, Kirkus Prize Winner, A Globe and Mail Best Book, The White Pine Award,
Becky Van Den Berg (@beckstar1932 @blvdb)
works as the Young Adult Services Coordinator at Pine River Library in Bayfield, Colorado.
This month’s curator for #IntlYALitMonth is Julia E. Torres. JULIA E. TORRES is a nationally recognized veteran language arts teacher, librarian, and teen programs administrator in Denver, Colorado. Julia facilitates teacher development workshops rooted in the areas of anti-racist education, equity and access in literacy and librarianship, and education as a practice of liberation. Julia’s work has been featured on NPR, AlJazeera’s The Stream, PBS Education, KQED’s MindShift, Rethinking Schools, Learning for Justice Magazine, School Library Journal, American Libraries Magazine, and many more. She is a Book Love Foundation board member, Educolor Working Group member, a Book Ambassador for The Educator Collaborative, and a co-founder of #DisruptTexts. Her co-authored title, Liven Up Your Library: Design Engaging and Inclusive Programs for Teens and Tweens, is just the first of many forthcoming publications for librarians and educators. Connect with Julia at juliaetorres.com or on social media @juliaerin80