The Marrow Thieves is my third read from the Canada Reads 2018 short-list. A fictional story, it that challenges readers to consider the history and fictional future of indigenous people. The reader is introduced to the experiences of residential schools, colonialism and global warming in a dystopian narrative targeted for the young adult reader.
Written from the perspective of Frenchie, a young indigenous male, who is on the run from the recruiters seeking indigenous people to capture and harvest their bone marrow. The marrow is extracted as a cure for the non-indigenous society who are unable to dream. After his brother sacrifices himself, so that Frenchie can escape, he joins others on the run including elders who impart their knowledge of the past to the children and teens that form their new family. They live in the wilderness, travelling North learning to fend for themselves and avoid being caught by the recruiters.
Channelling my younger self as I read, The Marrow Thieves it did inspire me to reflect on the shameful Canadian history of residential schools and the scary reality of global warming. Although bone marrow harvesting for to promote dreams is not realistic, the book would spark conversation in secondary school classrooms. It would be an excellent learning opportunity for students to research the residential schools and contrast them with the future imagined in the novel.
Dimaline, a Metis author, has received a Governor General’s award for The Marrow Thieves. According to an interview on CBC’s Unreserved, she wrote the novel as a reaction to the high levels of suicide among indigenous youth. The Marrow Thieves started as a short story and her goal was to show the YA audience a story where indigenous youth were the heroes, saving the world.
The Canada Reads debate will discuss 5 books across different genres and target audiences. Part literary discussions and part game show, the 4 days of debates get Canada reading and talking about books written by Canadians. Prepare for the debates by enjoying these 5 books:
- The Marrow Thieves (Cherie Dimaline)
- Precious Cargo (Craig Davidson)
- The Boat People (Sharon Bala)
- Forgiveness (Mark Sakamoto)
- American War (Omar El Akaad)
What is next? I am in the midst of the Boat People and have American War waiting. I will be defending Precious Cargo at Canada Reads: Brantford Public Library edition on March 21 and am looking forward to attending Canada Reads for the opening day and the finale on March 26th and 29th.
Which Canada Reads books will you be enjoying? I would love to know your reading plans and your thoughts on the short-listed collection.
For local blog followers, please watch for these books to appear in the Franklin Street Little Free Library this week. Thank you to CBC Books which has generously donated a copy of each book!