Reading guide for Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

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Bad Cree

A Novel

by Jessica Johns

Bad Cree by Jessica Johns X
Bad Cree by Jessica Johns
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 272 pages

    Dec 5, 2023, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. How does the book's title, Bad Cree, work in relation to its contents? If you could give the book a new title, what would it be?
  2. Grief and loss are significant themes in Bad Cree. In what ways do the characters experience grief and how does that show up in the novel? Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of the different ways of dealing with loss?
  3. Crows appear consistently throughout Bad Cree, so much so they are essentially their own characters. How do the appearance of the crows inform the mood of the novel? Does the mood they create when they appear change as the novel progresses?
  4. Bad Cree is told through the first-person perspective of Mackenzie. Because of this, we see how conflicted and guilt-ridden she feels about her return home after so many years. How would Mackenzie's return be viewed through the point of view of Kassidy, Tracey, and Loretta?
  5. Dreams play a central and important role in Bad Cree. How do each family member's dreams differ? How do they connect? Why do they feel they couldn't confide in each other about them sooner?
  6. The oilfield industry has changed the landscape of Mackenzie's homelands. In what ways do we see these changes manifest?
  7. Discuss the ways in which Mackenzie's life changes based on where she is located: Vancouver, BC, and High Prairie, Alberta.
  8. When she feels like she's messing up, Mackenzie asks her auntie "Am I a bad Cree?" What do you think Mackenzie means by that? At what other points does the dichotomy between "good" and "bad" or "right" and "wrong" come up?
  9. The author intentionally highlights the strength, love, and power of Indigenous women and femmes, particularly when they are protecting each other. How have the women or gender non-conforming people in your life shown up for you in the past?
  10. If you were to go to The Stardust bar with the aunties, Kassidy, Tracey, and Mackenzie, what would be your go-to karaoke song?

Suggested Reading
Severance by Ling Ma
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Hunting by Stars by Cherie Dimaline
White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Anchor Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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