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Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Winner of the Whiting Award for Non-Fiction Selected by Emma Watson as an Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick 'I loved it' Kate Tempest 'Astounding' Roxane Gay 'A sledgehammer' New York Times Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on an Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalised and facing a dual diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder, Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father – an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist – who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination. In Heart Berries, Mailhot discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, re-establishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.
Oreo by Fran Ross
A pioneering, dazzling satire about a biracial black girl from Philadelphia searching for her Jewish father in New York City Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.
American Prison by Shane Bauer
New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018 One of President Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2018 Winner of the 2019 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize Winner of the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism Winner of the 2019 RFK Book and Journalism Award A New York Times Notable Book A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history. In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still. The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison's sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone. A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America.
Floating City by Kerri Sakamoto
From the prize-winning author of The Electrical Field comes Citizen Kane reimagined: a novel about ambition and the relentless desire to belong. Shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards. Frankie Hanesaka isn't afraid of a little hard work. An industrious boy, if haunted by the mysterious figures of his mother's past in Japan, he grows up in a floating house in the harbour of Port Alberni, BC. With all the Japanese bachelors passing through town to work in the logging camps and lumber mills, maybe he could build a hotel on the water, too. Make a few dollars. But then the war comes, and Frankie finds himself in a mountai n internment camp, his small dreams of success dashed by the great tides of history. After the war, Frankie tries his luck in Toronto, where possibility awaits in the form of a patron who teaches him how to turn effort into money, and a starry-eyed architect who teaches Frankie something harder to come by: the ability to dream big. Buckminster Fuller's role as Frankie's outsized spiritual mentor is one of just many real-life touchstones and extraordinary points of colour in this fairytale-like story about family, ambition and the costs of turning our backs on history and home.
Mamaskatch by Darrel J. McLeod
Growing up in the tiny village of Smith, Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod was surrounded by his Cree family’s history. In shifting and unpredictable stories, his mother, Bertha, shared narratives of their culture, their family and the cruelty that she and her sisters endured in residential school. McLeod was comforted by her presence and that of his many siblings and cousins, the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, and his deep love of the landscape. Bertha taught him to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that would return to watch over and guide him at key junctures of his life. However, in a spiral of events, Darrel’s mother turned wild and unstable, and their home life became chaotic. Sweet and innocent by nature, Darrel struggled to maintain his grades and pursue an interest in music while changing homes many times, witnessing violence, caring for his younger siblings and suffering abuse at the hands of his surrogate father. Meanwhile, his sibling’s gender transition provoked Darrel to deeply question his own sexual identity. The fractured narrative of Mamaskatch mirrors Bertha’s attempts to reckon with the trauma and abuse she faced in her own life, and captures an intensely moving portrait of a family of strong personalities, deep ties and the shared history that both binds and haunts them. Beautifully written, honest and thought-provoking, Mamaskatch—named for the Cree word used as a response to dreams shared—is ultimately an uplifting account of overcoming personal and societal obstacles. In spite of the traumas of Darrel’s childhood, deep and mysterious forces handed down by his mother helped him survive and thrive: her love and strength stayed with him to build the foundation of what would come to be a very fulfilling and adventurous life.
Buffy Sainte Marie by Andrea Warner
"Buffy Sainte-Marie is an icon and inspiration. This book is necessary—an authorized insight into the making of a legend." —Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries A powerful, intimate look at the life of a beloved folk icon and activist. Folk hero. Songwriter icon. Living legend. Buffy Sainte-Marie is all of these things and more. In this, Sainte-Marie’s first and only authorized biography, music critic Andrea Warner draws from more than sixty hours of exclusive interviews to offer a powerful, intimate look at the life of the beloved artist and everything that she has accomplished in her seventy-seven years (and counting). Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate for Indigenous rights and freedoms, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo. Establishing herself among the ranks of folk greats such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, she has released more than twenty albums, survived being blacklisted by two U.S. presidents, and received countless accolades, including the only Academy Award ever to be won by a First Nations artist. But this biography does more than celebrate Sainte-Marie’s unparalleled talent as a songwriter and entertainer; packed with insight and knowledge, it offers an unflinchingly honest, heartbreakingly real portrait of the woman herself, including the challenges she experienced on the periphery of showbiz, her healing from the trauma of childhood and intimate partner violence, her commitment to activism, and her leadership in the protest movement.
Story Boat by Kyo Maclear
When you have to leave behind almost everything you know, where can you call home? Sometimes home is simply where we are: here. A imaginative, lyrical, unforgettable picture book about the migrant experience through a child's eyes. When a little girl and her younger brother are forced along with their family to flee the home they've always known, they must learn to make a new home for themselves -- wherever they are. And sometimes the smallest things -- a cup, a blanket, a lamp, a flower, a story -- can become a port of hope in a terrible storm. As the refugees travel onward toward an uncertain future, they are buoyed up by their hopes, dreams and the stories they tell -- a story that will carry them perpetually forward. This timely, sensitively told story, written by multiple award--winner Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Sendak Fellowship recipient Rashin Kheiriyeh, introduces very young readers in a gentle, non-frightening and ultimately hopeful way to the current refugee crisis.
My Body Is A Book Of Rules by Elissa Washuta
As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren’t threatening her life, they’re shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan’s mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color . . . A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists. Maggie Nelson is the author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007). She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.
From The Hilltop by Toni Jensen
For the characters we meet in Toni Jensen's stories, the past is very much the present. Theirs are American Indian lives off the reservation, lives lived beyond the usual boundaries set for American Indian characters: migratory, often overlooked, yet carrying tradition with them into a future of difference and possibility.