Oh, Please, Gerald. Sit Down. You're Not That Important.
Book Review: Sula by Toni Morrison

Book Review: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline


There is a feeling that has no name because, really, it is such an absence that it exists only in a vacuum of feeling and so, really, can have no name. It sucks you inside out and places you in a space where touch and taste and sound and sight all turn to ash.

Marrow thievesThe Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline is a mystical novel. It tells about a future time when the environment of the earth is mostly trashed: the Great Lakes polluted, the weather patterns disrupted, cities lost under the ocean, people becoming migrants looking for a place to survive. Something in these changes has also changed most humans: we can sleep, but we can't dream anymore. No one but the Native Americans, and so "schools" are formed where the Indigenous people are locked up. Brutal experiments are done to them so as to extract their dreaming ability—which is stored in their bone marrow—bottle it, and give it to the people in power.

Frenchie barely escaped being caught; his brother sacrificed himself so he could get away. After wandering in the woods of what used to be Canada, he finds a group of other Indigenous people who become his tribe. Over a few years, as he grows into an older teenager, he learns how to hunt, use a gun, find food and water; how to, in essence, survive in the outdoors. Conflict comes in the shape of the people who are still hunting them.

I loved this book. Partly for the story itself, and the characters, but mostly for the style of writing. It is mystical, with characters who know bits and pieces of their native traditions and language but no one who knows all of them. It dips into magic realism which works flawlessly because of how the voice of the story has established the possibility for something more than reality. It explores relationships and what a family is, and its descriptions of nature are beautiful.

The story doesn't wrap up neatly, perhaps setting the stage for a sequel. Honestly, though, I don't need more and I liked the wavering end because it didn't tie up everything. That felt consistent with the story and let me feel like I had witnessed something mysterious that cannot be fully explained, only experienced.

I read this not because anyone recommended it to me or I had ever even heard about it, but because it was left on a table at the library. Instead of just putting it on the cart, I read the back cover copy and decided to check it out. Having finished it, I think that's the perfect way to find a book like this, as if the universe brought it to me. Not everyone would like this but for me it was perfect.


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