The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
One of this year's Canada Reads selections, the award winning The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline is a YA novel set in a dystopian future. After the Melting there was chaos and amidst that chaos the white people lost their ability to dream. They were slowly going mad. Since the Indigenous people can still dream, the scientists began their experiments, to extract the bone marrow from the Indigenous person to help the white man dream. In order to do so, these people were rounded up and placed in schools where, unless they escaped, they would never see their family again. Sound familiar?
The Marrow Thieves is the story of Frenchie, a sixteen year old Métis boy who escapes to the bush to outrun the Recruiters. He meets up with a group of other indigenous people, men, women, young, and old all from different Nations and backgrounds who come together as a family. To run, hunt, remember, and dream together. There are the Elders who teach them to hunt and fish and teach them the language of their ancestors. A language that breaths life into their souls. They face many dangers out in the bush and cover many kilometres in their quest to reunite with their families in the far North.
Cherie Dimaline creates a haunting world in a future not too far away. It can serve as a reminder if we don't accept the truth of the past and work to reconcile the wrong doings we are horribly doomed to repeat them. It also serves as a cautionary tale about our treatment of our planet. Everyone should read this story and others like it, by indigenous authors. It is important for us to hear their stories, told through their own voices so we can finally accept the truth of the atrocities suffered in the past and the wounds that continue to bleed still today. There is great sorrow in this story. It will be uncomfortable for many as it was for me. We all hope for a nice, tidy ending to our stories and when we don't get one we are left wanting. A device so impeccably used by the author because Canada's First Nations people are still waiting for theirs. There are also moments of joy in the story, joy in reuniting with family and joy in creating new families. Always in the background there is Story. Story is told so as not to forget, to "set the memory in perpetuity". If you are a fan of dystopian fantasy you won't be able to put this book down. Good luck to Jully Black in her defence of The Marrow Thieves.