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November Book Recommendations


There are many native nations and even more stories and voices from them to discover this month. Celebrate a diverse group of Native authors with us for Native American History Month by picking up one or more of these fabulous contemporary, or action-packed, or historical, or short story-filled books.

Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
A post-Apocalyptic YA novel with a steampunk twist, based on an Apache legend. Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of haves and have-nots. There were the Ones -- people so augmented with technology and genetic enhancements that they were barely human -- and there was everyone else who served them. Then the Cloud came, and everything changed. Tech stopped working. The world plunged back into a new steam age. The Ones' pets -- genetically engineered monsters -- turned on them and are now loose on the world. Lozen was not one of the lucky ones pre-C, but fate has given her a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. She hunts monsters for the Ones who survived the apocalyptic events of the Cloud, which ensures the safety of her kidnapped family. But with every monster she takes down, Lozen's powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.

Rain is Not my Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
The next day was my fourteenth birthday, and I'd never kissed a boy -- domestic style or French. Right then, I decided to get myself a teen life. Cassidy Rain Berghoff didn't know that the very night she decided to get a life would be the night that Galen would lose his. It's been six months since her best friend died, and up until now Rain has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia's Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again -- at least through the lens of her canera. Hired by her town newspaper to photograph the campers, Rain soon finds that she has to decide how involved She wants to become in Indian Camp. Does she want to keep a professional distance from the intertribal community she belongs to? And just how willing is she to connect with the campers after her great loss? In a voice that resonates with insight and humor, Cynthia Leitich Smith tells of heartbreak, recovery, and reclaiming one's place in the world.

My Name is not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Luke knows his I'nupiaq name is full of sounds white people can't say. He knows he'll have to leave it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School things are different. Instead of family, there are students - Eskimo, Indian, White - who line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there's some kind of war going on. And instead of comforting words like tutu and maktak, there's English. Speaking I'nupiaq - or any native language - is forbidden. And Father Mullen, whose fury is like a force of nature, is ready to slap down those who disobey. Luke struggles to survive at Sacred Heart. But he's not the only one. There's smart-aleck Amiq, a daring leader - if he doesn't self destruct; Chickie, blond and freckled, a different kind of outsider; and small quiet Junior, noticing everything and writing it all down. Each has their own story to tell. But once their separate stories come together, things at Sacred Heart School - and in the wider world - will never be the same.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.


Code Talker Stories by Laura Tohe
On these pages, the Navajo Code Talkers speak, in English and Navajo, about past and present. Laura Tohe, daughter of a Code Talker, interviewed many of the remaining Code Talkers, some of whom have since passed on. The Navajo language helped win World War II, and it lives on in this book, as the veterans truly share from their hearts, providing not only more battlefield details, but also revealing how thier ware experiences affected themselves and the following generations. Their children and grandchildren also speak about what it means to them today. Beautiful portraits accompany their words.




House of Purple Cedar by Tim Tingle
The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle—a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality—tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.

Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today by Lori Marie Carlson (ed)
The ten stories that make up this collection are raw, original, and fresh. Although they are all about American Indians, they are as different from one another as they are from anything you've read before. A supermarket checkout line, a rowboat on a freezing lake at dawn, a drunken dance in the gym, an ice hockey game on public-access TV. These are some of the backgrounds against which ten outstanding authors have created their memorable characters. Their work -- both poignant and funny, sarcastic and serious -- reminds us that the American Indian story is far from over -- it's being written every day.




If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him -- people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family's poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home -- will he still be his friend? Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock 'n' roll.

Crazy Horse's Girlfriend by Erika Wurth.
Margaritte is a sharp-tongued, drug-dealing, sixteen-year-old Native American floundering in a Colorado town crippled by poverty, unemployment, and drug abuse. She hates the burnout, futureless kids surrounding her and dreams that she and her unreliable new boyfriend can move far beyond the bright lights of Denver that float on the horizon before the daily suffocation of teen pregnancy eats her alive.
Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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Item Reviewed: November Book Recommendations Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook