Salutations friends! I’m back with some more mini reviews! I hope you don’t mind that this is going to be a larger mini reviews post than usual. Today I’m going to be talking about five Indigenous books and recommend them to you. Yes! Yes you reader! If you’re looking to diversify your reading, wanting to read more literature by Native/Indigenous then I think these books are a good place to start. However, these book are unapologetically Indigenous and know that I loved each of these books with my whole dang chest! Anyway, here are five books that I’ve loved so far for the month of November! ♥
🪶 The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives by Linda LeGarde Grover
Finished copy provided by Univ Of Minnesota Press.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of Residential schools, abuse, trauma/PTSD, generational trauma, loss of loved ones, grief
I sobbed. Friends, I have sobbed all through this book, I cried after finishing this book, and even now as I write up this review I’m getting teary eyed. For starters, look at this cover. I’m in love with it! It’s absolutely stunning and I just needed to point this out to everyone. That aside, this book is such a loud book. It’s raw, incredibly important, and the kind of book that you need to sit on after you finish it, to feel the weight and emotions that you’ve read through. However, I always get super mushy when something is unapologetically Native/Indigenous.
This poetry collection is a collection that reflects on the experience in Ojibwe lives. Moments on boarding schools and Wounded Knee, but lacing the important moments of love, family, and culture throughout these pages. A poetry collection that encourages the reader to sit upon the weight of the history that Turtle Island (now known as North America or The United States & Canada) was subjected to, to encourage reflection and acknowledgement of how this history still carries into today. To encourage the reader to take their time reading with this book.
If I had to say anything negative about this collection, I think it would be that there are no resources for non-Native/non-Indigenous readers to follow up on with reading. I know many non-Native/non-Indigenous readers tend to struggle with connecting with Native/Indigenous literature and I think it would have been helpful if there were more resources linking to even more stories from Ojibwe people. HOWEVER, I will say/argue that Google is free, articles on Native/Indigenous history is free, YouTube is free, most Nations have their own websites linking their histories, stories and resources. All the sources are literally out there at your fingers tips, you just have to actually put in the work to find those resources. It shouldn’t be the Native/Indigenous author’s responsibility to do all the work for you.
Some of my favorites:
➸ Sea Smoke on Gichigami
➸ Mary Remembering, on a July Afternoon
Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this poetry collection. This collection made my heart very mushy, very soft, and really emotional. This is so much more than just a poetry collection and the powerfulness, the loudness of this book is just immaculate. I don’t think this book will be for everyone and I think there will be readers who struggle with this because there are poems that use the Ojibwe language. However, I love when an author uses their first language and does it unapologetically, and this book is very unapologetically Native/Indigenous. It was just a fantastic read and I can’t recommend it enough to those who want to read more Native/Indigenous literature.
This book was stunning! Stunning! From the story to the artwork, I absolutely fell in love with this book. I’m truly grateful to a friend who recommended this book to me and needless to say… I’ve already bought book two and added the rest of the series to many of my wishlists. I’m really excited to read the rest of the series and experience more of the Mothers of Xsan, and the stories from the Gitxsan Nation of British Columbia!
To the Gitxsan Nation of British Columbia, the sockeye salmon is more than their source of food, but also important to their survival. This book reflects how the circle of life impacts everything. From birth to death, everything in an ecosystem is impacted and even the smallest creature has an important role. We see that through the cycle of the sockeye salmon in this book and how it contributes to the Gitxsan Nation.
The biggest thing I want to highlight about this book is the role the sockeye salmon has. We don’t just see the sockeye salmon ecologically, but we see it culturally for the Gitxsan Nation, as well. This is the main point of this whole entire book. Everything is connected to each other and I think this book does a fantastic job at highlighting this for readers. Far too often, we tend to forget how even the smallest thing can make the biggest ripples. The author wrote this book in a way to not only highlight this, but causes the reader to reflect and really think about, well, literally everything that is life.
The other thing I was super happy about was the highlighted vocabulary words. This book does a really good job providing that for those special key words. I really love that and really appreciate the author taking the time to do that. And this makes it an ever better reading experience if you’re reading this book with younger readers. I think it adds so much to the reading experience and I enjoyed taking the time to read the little boxes. Speaking of vocabulary, we see Gitxsan language being used and it makes my heart so full. I love when authors use their first language unapologetically in their books. There’s also a Gitxsan Moons vocabulary chart in the back of the book too. I love that this little detail was added to just add to Gitxsan being used throughout this book! We love to see it!
“Little does this small sockeye fry know that its life cycle not only nourishes the people and other beings along the watersheds, it is the whole reason the forests and landscapes exist.”
Let’s talk about the artwork within this book. Holy cow, the illustrations are gorgeous. Some of the pages I want to frame and hang on the wall because it’s so beautiful. The way the colors play and compliment each page individually is captivating and constantly drawing the eye to soak up all the details on each page. Not to mentions, in the back of the book there’s an illustrated map that shows where the four clans are located. It’s everything in a map that I want. Immaculate. Truly immaculate.
Overall, I loved this book. What more can I possibly say about this book. To me, this book is flawless and perfect to read with readers of all ages. Plus, you’re never too old to learn something new. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m excited to continue with this series. I believe there’s five or six books total and I’m excited to continue on. I recommend giving this a chance as it’s a shorter read and perfect for those who want to dip their toes into Native/Indigenous literature.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk about MMIWG2S, racism
This is an illustrated book that’s inspired by the letter written by 14 year-old, Brianna Jonnie to Winnipeg’s chief of police, addressing how white children are framed in a better light over those who are Native/Indigenous. And when those who are Native/Indigenous do go missing, making the news, they’re always framed in a stereotypical light that dehumanizes them. This is the story highlighting what it means to be Native/Indigenous and the constant worry Native/Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people face should they go missing.
This book made me really emotional for so many reasons, hit so close to home and I was very raw after reading this book. I don’t think there’s enough words to convey, even now, how I feel right now writing this review. As an Apache person, I spent many moments in my life where this was my biggest concern and moments where I almost turned into a missing person. So this left me feeling very seen and very vulnerable all in one. This also touches a personal side to my family that too personal talk about and I don’t feel comfortable sharing, but it hit close in that regards too. So I was feeling very vulnerable and very emotional for so many reasons.
There’s also plenty of resources in the back of the book along with the letter that was written. For those who enjoy having websites to follow up on this with, this is the book for you. There are six website links to various resources and it’s great to get more familiar with MMIW & MMIWG2S. So if you wanted resources to learn more about the hardships Native/Indigenous people face, I recommend starting with this book.
Overall, I don’t want to say too much other than I really enjoy this book, despite all the tears shed. Again, this book hit very close to home and just writing a review is making me feel some kind of way. If you’re looking to dip your toes into Native/Indigenous literature, but you don’t want to start with a book that’s going to bathe you in the cold hard, historical truth for hundreds of pages, then pick this book up. Its informative, provides statements, follow up links for further education, and isn’t too long that you may feel over-stimulated. Its a good starting point for everyone and I highly recommend it!
ALC was given by Libro.fm & Tin House Books in exchange for an honest review.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, scenes of emesis, poverty, talk of dementia, talk of infertility, brief mentions of postpartum depression, loss of a child, loss of a loved one, death
This was the perfect audiobook for long drives to go hiking, friends. I’m not going to lie, I think because I was listening to the audiobook and hiking while doing so, it added to how much I enjoyed it and how quickly I flew through this book. Though honestly, I was a little salty that I couldn’t update my reading progress of the audiobook as I was listening, but it’s fine, everything is fine. I really enjoyed this and I can’t wait to tell you about it!
Night of the Living Rez is a short story collection portraying the life of Maine’s Native Penobscot Nation. Stories of layered friendships, dysfunctional family dynamics, addiction in Native/Indigenous communities, trauma, the way poverty influences us and some of the decisions we make, and so much more! Though there are many, MANY heavy moments, Talty laces funny and light moments to help balance the heavier moments. All these stories from different points of time come together to make a collection that you’ll think about days after you finished reading this book.
If you were expecting a horror book or a light read, then let me emphasize that this book is probably not the book you’re looking for. This book has many dark moments that are brutal, that will gut you or make your heart wrench. Morgan Talty has stated in multiple interviews that he didn’t want to write Native/Indigenous people in a way that’s “easy, comfortable tour of Indian Country.” You can find one of those interviews HERE. The author wanted to write these characters, this family, in a way that humanizes them and breaks down the stereotypical image. To show those struggles and that constant fight for survival, when you’re at the bottom of the barrel and no one addresses it, but those who constantly go through it. So that’s why I say make sure you’re in a good mental place and to check out content warnings. This is beautifully written, but there’s a lot of heavy topics.
I really enjoyed the audiobook. I really want to put emphasis on this because I’ve seen a few reviews stating they didn’t like the physical form of this book. For me, I think the audiobook is what brought balance to the time shifts. I think if I had read the physical copy, the shift in time might have been a little jarring or overwhelming. However, I think the transitions were really well done in the audiobook and it helps with the way the narrator handles those transitions.
However, while I did enjoy this book, I did have one issue when it came to the audiobook. I wish that the audiobook would of had multiple narrators. Sometimes the voices of certain characters would blend together and it was a little hard to tell who was who. I think if they had a full cast for this book or even two narrators, it would have improved the listening experience. Other than that, I think the only issue that some readers may find, is the flow of the story and the time shifts. As I stated above, I think the audiobook helped in the regard, but I can understand why many readers didn’t feel this book was a short story collection.
Overall, I think this will be a very polarizing book among readers. I think people will either love this book or really not like this book. Again, I emphasize, this isn’t a horror book, but a book that leans more contemporary and deals with very heavy topics. Despite this, I really enjoyed this collection. As someone who has family members who live on the rez, some of the stories hit close to home for me concerning one of my cousins. Plus, I was listening to this while I was out hiking in the woods and it added to the feelings I was already feeling when I go to get lost in the woods. I still recommend this book. Even if you think you might not like it, I encourage you to give it a chance as this book does have themes that impact Native/Indigenous communities.
“I know there are different worlds
because our ancestors sent them messages
because lost lovers now live in them
because you just said that right now.”
Another book that made me soft, teary eyed, and squishy! I loved this book so, so much. I think when I was taking notes and updating my reading progress I said something along the lines of, “Not me five pages in and sobbing over chickdees!” I just loved this poetry collection so much and the fact that it’s both in Anishinaabemowin and English was such an incredibly thing to see. This was such a captivating read that’s laced with deeper meanings to things and even though this is a quiet book, it’s so loud. This collection highlights the importance of traditions and relationships, but we also see history and connections, many connections, to nature.
“Whether we hear giji-giji-gaane-shii-shii or chick-a-dee-dee-dee depends on how we have been taught to listen. Our world is shaped by the sounds around us and the filter we use to turn thoughts into words.”
Overall, I don’t want to spoil too much because I think this collection is better when you go into it without knowing too much about it. It’s just a better experience when you go into it with an open heart and open mind. I wish as a kid I’d seen more books like this that had the dual languages. I think if I had books like this as a kid, it would have been absolutely everything. If you’re a poetry lover, I definitely have to recommend this to you. Plus, this cover is probably one of my favorite covers of all time, but I’m also very sentimental of chickadees.