tla çid | inspire
Sisters of the Neversea book sitting up against a tree
PhotoS by Erin Tripp (Tlingit)

Reads and Reviews

An Alaska Native reader reviews Native-written books
By Erin Tripp (Tlingit)
Sisters of the Neversea
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
(Muscogee Creek Nation)
For over a hundred years there have been countless retellings of Peter Pan, and in theatre I’ve seen numerous debates about how a Peter Pan adaptation can respectfully represent Native characters. And generally the answer is: You can’t do it. You can’t stick close to the original storyline and do justice to Indigenous people, and you can’t just get rid of the Native characters (a form of erasure).

What Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek Nation) has created is much more than a retelling, however. She’s written a new story that stands on its own. Of course the answer was to have an Indigenous person re-write the story and reclaim the narrative. I loved the two sisters who are grappling with a shift in their family structure and trying to figure out how it will change their relationship. There was a great representation in all of the Neverland characters from the Lost Boys, the Native kids, and pirates. I appreciated the characterization of Peter Pan as the source of everyone’s problems, which is a shift I’ve seen in a couple other retellings… and honestly the only way it makes sense to me now. In terms of the writing style, I really enjoyed the use of third person narration for the book. It felt very much like we were being told a story, and the storytellers were the stars.

I 1000% recommend this book to adult and middle grade readers alike! And if you are a middle school librarian, get this for your library ASAP, along with all the other HeartDrum titles coming out this year. The fact that there’s a major imprint for Native kids titles is huge.

The Removed book sitting on a tree
The Removed
By Brandon Hobson
“The Removed” follows a family as they live with the grief of losing their brother/son in a police shooting. The book takes place over a one-week period, many years after the murder, as each family member moves through the world and carries the weight of that loss. I found it to be a heartbreaking, reflective storytelling experience. It’s told in multiple perspectives, including a historical perspective from a character who lived right before the Trail of Tears. I really enjoyed how the historical character connected and wove into the larger story, I was curious how it would fit in and I loved how it played into the narrative. I also liked how the book used metaphor and symbolism. I’m not always super tuned into what is and isn’t a metaphor, so I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface of it… but I like what I was able to catch.

It’s a shorter book, at less than 300 pages, which I appreciated in many ways. It made it really impactful and because it took place over one week it very much felt like a slice of life story. We glimpsed a singular moment in time in the characters’ lives and although it didn’t wrap up their stories by the end it was ok. It gave the sense that their lives keep going, they still have problems they’re working through and resolving for themselves. It left me with a lot to think about.

CW: drug use, addiction, grief, police shooting, Alzheimer’s, foster care, assault, alcohol, racism, slurs, Trail of Tears.

Son of a Trickster book in nature
Son of a Trickster
By Eden Robinson
After waiting a few years to read the “Son of a Trickster” trilogy, I’m finally doing it now that the last book has been released. And this first book in the series was not what I expected. I fully expected Raven to be more involved with the story and for it to be a lot more fantastical, but the book (for the most part) had more to do with Jared, his family relationships, addiction, and trauma. Jared is a great character who cares for his family and carries too much responsibility at his age for those around him. And for the glimpses we got of Raven, and other magical beings, it made me hungry for more and look forward to what the next books have in store for us.

And as a Lingít person, it’s really exciting to see Raven represented in this story. Although Eden Robinson is from a different Tribe I still felt very close to the world presented and as it took place in the Northwest, it also felt at home for me in that way. I even found a connection between the otters in the book to stories we have. So for that alone, this book is really special to me.

Erin Tripp is a Tlingit stage and voice actor who earned her a bachelors degree in Theatre and Tlingit Language from the University of Alaska Southeast. You can follow Erin on Instagram @erins_library or her YouTube channel, “Erin’s Library.”