Young adult literature is one of the fastest growing genres, enjoyed
not just by young adults themselves but also by older adults who
want to leave room for magic in their reading. Indigenous authors
have been leading the way in Young Adult literature.
Here are some of our top picks:
“Will’s Garden” by Lee Maracle
Award-winning Sto:lo author and teacher Lee Maracle wrote Will’s
Garden. Maracle has been widely published with poetry, short stories
and a selection of novels including Ravensong, Bobbi Lee, and
Sundog. Will’s Garden is the story of a young Sto:lo man in his home
territory, and examines universal themes of bullying, sexuality, love
and illness while also exploring the ceremonies of the Sto:lo people.
“Shadows Cast By Stars” by Catherine Knutsson
Metis author, Catherine Knuttson, wrote Shadows Cast by Stars. Her
story is set on Vancouver Island, where she also resides and works
as a teacher, writer and singer. Shadows Cast by Stars is particularly
timely as the teenage protagonist is on an adventurous quest for
survival during a time of plague. To escape racial persecution, she
runs with her family in a story that combines Indigenous ways of
being with Greek and Arthurian legends.
“The Marrow Thieves” by Cheri Dimaline
Vancouver-based Metis author Cheri Dimaline wrote The Marrow
Thieves which was a White Pine Award finalist and won the Kirkus
Prize for Young Readers and Governor General’s Award. A fan
favourite in 2018 Canada Reads, it generated a lot of media buzz and
was translated for international sale. The book’s premise explores a
world where no one can dream, where the bone marrow of
Indigenous people is prized and the earth has been ravaged by
“Fire Fight” by Jacqueline Guest
Award-winning Alberta Metis writer Jacqueline Guest crafted the story
Fire Fight which follows the journey of an Indigenous teen runaway
seeking acceptance and safety in a big world far from the foster care
system. The dilemma of learning who to trust and when to run is
brought to life in this poignant adventure.
“Fire Song” by Adam Garnet Jones
Edmonton-based Two-Spirit Cree/Metis/Danish writer, director and
bead artist Adam Garnet Jones wrote Fire Song. It tells the story of
an Indigenous youth coping with the suicide of a family member,
challenges pursuing post-secondary education, and struggling with
the big decision as to whether or not to leave the reserve for the big
city of Toronto.
“Those Who Run The Sky” by Aviaq Johnston
Inuk writer, Aviaq Johnston’s debut YA novel, Those Who Run The
Sky won the Indigenous Voices Award for English Prose. From
Igloolik, she wrote a mystical tale of a shaman lost in a spirit world full
of magical and sometimes frightening spirits and his journey back to
reality and the people he loves most.
The Young Adult genre is full of creative stories of young people
navigating the world around them. Reading the fantastical stories
written by Indigenous authors is a great way to decolonize your
bookshelf and open your mind to new possibilities and adventures.
Which will you choose?