Reading Indigenous With Alison Manley

Editor’s note: The following are three brief reviews of books written by Indigenous authors that Alison Manley (TMR’s Associate Editor) read in late 2022. These reviews appeared on her Instagram feed and she has kindly allowed me to combine them here.


Ravensong by Lee Maracle

In 1954, 17-year-old Stacey thinks too much. She is her village’s dreamer, the girl who goes to the white school in town across the bridge, who plans to be a teacher, who wants to come home and build a school for her people. But as Stacey is grappling with what she knows and the reality of going more fully into white society, her village is struck by a flu epidemic, and her sense of belonging becomes more tenuous.
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Watched over by Raven, Cedar, and her quiet little sister Celia, they try to tell Stacey what she needs to know to ensure the vitality of the village. But will she ever hear them?
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Maracle wrote this novel in three days, which blows my mind – it’s slim but impactful, full of bright characters and lots of questions to be turned over in your mind. Reading it was lovely, and also a reminder of the work we shamefully still haven’t done.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Women’s Press; 2 edition (May 1 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 196 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0889615977
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0889615977

Making Love With the Land: Essays by Joshua Whitehead

An absolutely incredible essay collection from the immensely talented Joshua Whitehead. The reflections on being Indigenous, the violence of colonialism, identity as Two-Spirit, rejecting and still trapped by the confines of colonial rules about writing, this is a raw, sharp collection.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Knopf Canada (Aug. 23 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0735278865
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0735278868
See also  Chris in Canada by George Frederick Clarke

Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson

A tangled character portrait of Ruby Valentine, a Métis woman with a big laugh and a complicated relationship with her own life. Adopted as an infant to a pair of older white people, Ruby has spent her whole life longing for something to fill the hole she feels, and a family. Told in time-jumping chapters, including some from the perspective of her family members, Probably Ruby is the story of a woman who is just trying to find the place where she belongs.
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The novel reads more like a set of connected short stories, involving most of the same characters. I liked it, but it’s definitely not for those who don’t like plotless fiction (I love plotless fiction). Ruby is troubled but never bleak, and you can’t help but root for her.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Anchor Canada (Sept. 27 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0385696701
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0385696708

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