BookBrowse Reviews A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

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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



Cast from his childhood home, a cottonmouth animal person must team up with a Lipan Apache girl on Earth to save the life of his ailing friend.

Inspired by traditional Lipan Apache storytelling, A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger is a dual perspective young adult novel following Oli — an animal person living in the land of spirits and monsters whose true form is that of a cottonmouth snake — and Nina — a Lipan Apache girl who is living on Earth and is determined to understand her Indigenous heritage through her great-great-grandmother Rosita's stories. After Oli is cast from his childhood home by his mother, like his elder siblings before him, he must learn to understand the world on his own and find a new home for himself. Once settled into his new life, he befriends a silent toad, two energetic coyote sisters and a friendly hawk. He also meets some not-so-nice strangers and terrifying monsters along the way. But then Oli must travel to Earth, in order to save one of his friends who is sick. Meanwhile, Nina finds herself searching the Texas desert she calls home to find the hidden meaning behind the final story Rosita told her before she died. The situation is complicated by a series of strange events and a nosy new neighbor's questions, and Nina begins learning more about her world than she could have ever imagined.

Little Badger's book is truly an ode to storytelling. She draws from her own Indigenous background, incorporating elements from oral tradition. Nina's quest to understand her heritage through Rosita's story is crucial to the plot, and the author's lyrical and whimsical writing is reminiscent of the fairy tales and folklore of childhood, bringing a sense of nostalgia to this fantastical book.

Nina and Oli's story revolves around the existence of animal people, which feature in the Lipan Apache creation story. The existence of two worlds in A Snake Falls to Earth — one where animal people thrive in their true forms, and one where humans live — gives the reader a chance to delve into an exciting fantasy. And because the two worlds are interconnected — for example, some animal people face extinction due to humanity's carelessness and the effects of climate change on Earth — the book offers insight into how our actions affect the world around us and gives a voice to the animals that are endangered by overconsumption and greed.

Furthermore, while reading through Nina's perspective, we are given a picture of Earth that is not too far from our own version. We see the corruption of those with extreme wealth, represented by a very rich YouTube star that profits off of the labor of others while paying them a pittance, and we also see Nina's difficulty in trying to connect with her Indigenous roots. We see her searching for elusive dictionaries to translate Rosita's story, and discovering a lot about the real-life history of the Lipan Apache people, including how they were affected by the federal Indian Removal Act of 1830 and their connection with the annexation of Texas. All of these elements make this book a truly interesting read.

However, at times while reading A Snake Falls to Earth, I felt like the author had bitten off more than she could chew with regard to all of the plot points included. Several times throughout the story, there are interesting threads introduced — such as a monster that chases Oli up a tree after he leaves home, and a dangerous catfish cult — that seem swept aside and forgotten in favor of focusing on Oli teaming up with Nina to save his friend's life. Furthermore, the second half of the book feels a lot more rushed than the first; the story is wrapped up too quickly and too tidily.

Having said that, A Snake Falls to Earth is a real delight to read and will definitely be loved by middle-grade and young adult audiences, as well as adults looking to re-experience the magic of childhood.

Reviewed by Althea Draper

This review first ran in the February 2, 2022 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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