Contemporary YA Literature by Indigenous Authors: Background information when reading A Snake Falls to Earth

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A Snake Falls to Earth

by Darcie Little Badger

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger X
A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
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  • Published:
    Nov 2021, 352 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Althea Draper
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About this Book

Contemporary YA Literature by Indigenous Authors

This article relates to A Snake Falls to Earth

Print Review

Darcie Little Badger's second young adult book, A Snake Falls to Earth, contains cultural elements from the Lipan Apache tribe, of which both the author and the book's main character, Nina, are members. The book references the animal people who appear in the Lipan Apache creation story, and it is inspired by traditional Indigenous storytelling. It is one of a number of contemporary young adult books by Indigenous authors that feature representation of Indigenous cultures and people in their many forms.

YA Books by Indigenous Authors

Of course, when looking at some of the exciting new titles with Indigenous main characters in YA, Little Badger's debut novel Elatsoe is a real standout, having been nominated for and awarded several literary prizes, including a Locus Award. It is also on Time magazine's 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time list. Elatsoe features an alternate America that has been shaped by magic and monsters, where some magic is as simple as making lights appear, but other kinds are dangerous. The titular character, a Lipan Apache girl, can raise the ghosts of dead animals, and after her cousin is murdered, she takes it upon herself to investigate the crime.

Another exciting contemporary young adult release that is also steeped in the author's own Indigenous heritage is Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley, set to be turned into a Netflix series by the Obamas' production company Higher Ground. The book's main character is a biracial Ojibwe teen named Daunis, who finds herself in the middle of an FBI murder investigation on the reservation where she lives. Her understanding of traditional Ojibwe medicine is an asset to the FBI, but her life is complicated further by a cute but mysterious new hockey recruit, Jamie.

Released by the same publisher that brings us Darcie Little Badger's novels, Levine Querido, Eric Gansworth's Apple is a memoir in verse that was longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Titled after an insult used in Native communities against those perceived as assimilated to whiteness, the book follows Gansworth's experiences growing up an ethnic minority, as Onondaga on a Tuscarora reservation.

One of several recent graphic novel releases featuring Indigenous main characters, Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett and illustrated by Natasha Donovan features Anishinaabe and Innenew teens (respectively) Miikwan and Dez as they deal with growing up in the city. When Dez can no longer stay with her grandmother after she gets sick, she is faced with having to move into a group home. Terrified by this prospect, Dez disappears and Miikwan is heartbroken. While her own family troubles resurface, Miikwan is desperate for the community to find Dez before it becomes too late.

Finally, if you're just looking to dip your toes into the works of several different authors, Ancestor Approved, edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith, is a great choice. This is an exciting anthology of short stories written by a plethora of Indigenous authors across various genres, from fantasy to mystery and everything in between. While this collection is categorized as suitable for ages eight and up, it features many authors of YA works. It also grapples with serious topics that teens and young adults can relate to, such as grief and a desire to belong, while also focusing on the joy and happiness that comes from being Indigenous.

Filed under Reading Lists

Article by Althea Draper

This article relates to A Snake Falls to Earth. It first ran in the February 2, 2022 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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