Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | Native American Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is a Thanksgiving themed freebie, and here in the UK we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd talk about some books that feature Native American characters because I just don't think there are enough out there, not only in books but in films and television, too. The recent film, Pan, is proof enough of that, where Tiger Lily was portrayed by Rooney Mara, who is whiter than milk.

More Native American representation please!

Witch Child by Celia Rees: Celia Rees is one of my favourite authors from my late childhood/early teens. Along with Eva Ibbotson, she's one of the authors I have to thank for sparking my interest in historical fiction when I read her novel Pirates! Witch Child was the second novel of hers that I read, and I loved it; it influenced me in a huge way in both what I read and what I write. Witch Child is told entirely in diary entries, from the point of view of Mary Newbury who is sent to 'the New World' after her beloved grandmother is executed for witchcraft. Once in America, however, she finds herself torn between the community of English settlers she should belong to, and the Native American tribe who seem to understand her abilities better than anyone else ever has. Love this book!

Sorceress by Celia Rees: This is a sequel to Witch Child, set in the present day, which follows a historian who is obsessed with Mary's diary, and Mary's descendent, Agnes, a young Native American girl. I didn't enjoy it as much as Witch Child, but it's still a good book.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: This book, like most of the books on this list, is one that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. It tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves the school on his reservation to attend an all-white school where he is the only Native American pupil. It sounds fantastic.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: I'm not even a little bit ashamed to mention this one. First off, I'm never going to deny that I went through the Twilight phase. I loved these books when they first came out, and I think they did a lot for YA in the publishing world. Secondly, say what you want about this series, but it's pretty much the only series I've read with a lot of Native American characters. Even better? None of them are white-washed in the movies. Just gonna throw that out there.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: I mentioned Tiger Lily before, so I had to give this book a mention. I read Peter Pan for my Victorian Popular Fiction module at uni, but I have to admit I didn't really like it that much. It's sold as this whimsical, childhood story, but it's creepy as eff, man. It's a weird book.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney: This book takes place in Canada, so I guess they're really Native Canadians rather than Native Americans. I started this book and couldn't get into it, but it has such high ratings on Goodreads that I want to give it another try, and given the cold setting I think it'll be a great winter read!

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks: Last year I read Year of Wonders and really enjoyed it. I've been eager to seek out more of Brooks' work ever since and Caleb's Crossing is the one I'm most interested in; loosely based on the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard in 1665, Brooks tells the story of a young woman, Bethia Mayfield, who longs for the education that her sex deprives her of. Bethia's father, a minister, wants to convert the local Native American people, and so he sends Caleb, a Native American boy and friend of Bethia's, to university. Bethia finds herself working as his housekeeper, and I think this book'll be so interesting to read.

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: This is another piece of historical fiction, and what I love about it is that it includes conflicts between Native American tribes as well as conflicts between Native American people as a whole and white settlers.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: This is the first book in the urban fantasy Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a walker (skinwalker, I'm guessing, which is a creature in Native American mythology) with the ability to shift into a coyote at will, as well as a mechanic. She sounds pretty darn cool to me!

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich: This is another one that sounds fantastic. It's set in a small town in North Dakota where, generations before, a farm family were murdered. The case has yet to be officially solved but, from the description, I'm guessing the murder was blamed on Native Americans living on a nearby reservation. I can't wait to read it! Also I want to read as much of Louise Erdrich's work as I can, because she seems to write about Native Americans quite a lot.

What did you talk about this week?


  1. What a great topic choice. I read Moon Called and I enjoyed it, but I still haven't read any more of the series. :x

    1. Thanks! I'm glad to hear Moon Called is worth reading. :)

  2. This is such a fantastic list!! I definitely wish I had thought of it! :P

    Here are my Top Ten!

  3. Great list! I love the Patricia Briggs books -- fabulous series. I have a copy of The Plague of Doves, but haven't read it yet -- but I read her recent book, The Round House, and thought it was amazing.

    1. Thanks! Ah, I'm glad to hear Patricia Briggs and Louise Erdrich are both worth checking out. :)