Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Marrow Thieves

Dimaline, Cherie (Author)
Cormorant Books 2017. 234 pages
First published: 2017
ISBN: 9781770864863 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Dystopian

Text Elements:

conflict, point of view, setting

Awards

Governor General’s Literary Award – 2017
The Forest of Reading – The White Pine Award (Fiction) Nominee – 2018
Amy Mathers Teen Book Award – 2018

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

It is late 21st century in the outer suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area. Sixteen-year-old Frenchie has just lost his older brother to “Recruiters” for the new “schools,” which are actually death-camp medical facilities, dedicated to harvesting the bone marrow of Indigenous peoples, to provide a cure for a new plague of dreamlessness that affects the rest of the population.

This apocalyptic tale delivers key aspects of Indigenous values and history, with incisive commentary on Canada’s abuse of Indigenous rights: “We’ve survived this before, we will survive it again.”

Rescued by a small band of travellers heading into the northern wilderness, Frenchie and the other teens learn traditional skills and stories. Action-filled sequences depict resistance strategies, such as a rescue raid on a “school” truck-convoy that recalls an attack on a wagon-train in the Old West and a siege that conjures up US government response to recent actions by water-protectors: “Out on the prairies, the Cree had put up a fight … before armed forces were brought in with drones to pick them off.”

Opportunities for discussion abound, as the language eloquently portrays a society that has dehumanized a population to serve its own perpetuation: “They had this crazy notion … That they could explain the system had to die and a new one be built in its place. Like that wasn’t scarier to those still in the system than all the dreamlessness and desert wastelands in the world.”

In the end, Frenchie finds community—and love—in a burgeoning northern nation of fellow Indigenous people and allies, reminiscent of pre-contact North American civilizations: “as long as there are dreamers left, there will never be want for a dream.”

  •  

    Indigenous history and culture are interwoven into the story of a dystopian future. Read the opening chapter as a group and discuss the world that is being presented.

  •  

    In small groups, explore the role played by “Story.” Consider how providing this information affects meaning and informs the big idea(s).

  •  

    Include this book as part of a text set for literature circle discussions or literature-based inquiry that consider issue(s) raised by the book. Reflect on the process in a reader-writer’s notebook.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Social Sciences