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 climate change.
“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?