The Marrow Thieves was the best book I’ve read (so far) this year, and I need to tell you why.
This isn’t your typical young-adult, dystopian story; it’s a must-read for everyone. The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline, was chosen for Canada Reads 2018, and has also won a Governor General’s Literary Award, the 2017 Kirkus Prize for young readers’ literature, and other notable awards.
The story is set in Northern Ontario, in the not-so-distant future. Climate change has brought more than rising water levels: it’s also somehow stopped the majority of the population from dreaming. As a result, people have gone mad, and the only cure for this mysterious disease is to harvest the bone marrow from Indigenous people, as they are still able to dream.
In this futuristic world, you’d think people would remember and learn from the past, but that’s not the case. Instead, a new form of residential school has been created, where Indigenous people are taken, and tortured, in order to extract their bone marrow. Why? Because the majority (white people) want to be able to dream again. It’s horrifying, and forces you, as the reader, to stop and reflect on North America’s past, and what needs to be done to reconcile for the future.
I know it seems like I’ve spoiled the book, but I promise I haven’t. Those facts form the setting of the story, but not the plot. Throughout the book you meet a group of incredibly resilient characters who have lost loved ones, had family members taken away from them, and have spent years (and for some, their entire lives), running and hiding in order to survive. However, despite their harrowing situation, they have not lost faith. Instead, they are full of hope, and believe they can recover and one day live as they used to.
This story will tear your heart out and make you laugh at the same time. It will show you how strong humans can be, and the lengths people go to in order to save themselves, and the ones they love.
I’d strongly recommend The Marrow Thieves to readers of all ages. While it deals with some difficult topics, it allows its readers to stop, reflect, and think about the past, the future, and individual privilege.