Welcome back to Three to Read! This week, we’re celebrating Native American History Month with three new releases from Indigenous authors. If you’re looking for exciting book recommendations be sure to check out these new titles. Our authors this week are Louise Erdrich, Margaret Verble, and Toni Jensen. Keep reading to discover a haunted bookstore, a mystery at the zoo, and a powerful memoir about gun violence in America.
by Louise Erdrich
A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading “with murderous attention,” must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.
The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. It’s mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written.
If you’re searching for a new read that reckons with the ghosts of the past, and the impact of the past year especially, you can’t pass up The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. Erdrich is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author. The New York Times recently reviewed Erdrich’s latest book, calling it “strange, enchanting and funny: a work about motherhood, doom, regret and the magic — dark, benevolent and every shade in between — of words on paper.”
The Sentence is released today (November 9th, 2021). Be sure to check it out, as well as Erdrich’s other titles!
by Margaret Verble
Two Feathers, a young Cherokee horse-diver on loan to Glendale Park Zoo from a Wild West show, is determined to find her own way in the world. Two’s closest friend at Glendale is Hank Crawford, who loves horses almost as much as she does. He is part of a high-achieving, land-owning Black family. Neither Two nor Hank fit easily into the highly segregated society of 1920s Nashville.
When disaster strikes during one of Two’s shows, strange things start to happen at the park. Vestiges of the ancient past begin to surface, apparitions appear, and then the hippo falls mysteriously ill. At the same time, Two dodges her unsettling, lurking admirer and bonds with Clive, Glendale’s zookeeper and a World War I veteran, who is haunted—literally—by horrific memories of war. To get to the bottom of it, an eclectic cast of park performers, employees, and even the wealthy stakeholders must come together, making When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky an unforgettable and irresistible tale of exotic animals, lingering spirits, and unexpected friendship.
If you enjoy historical fiction you’re sure to love this tale of mystery and intrigue from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble. When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky masterfully balances the weight of racism, war, and loneliness with an engaging friendship, captivating storytelling, and unforgettable animals. With a cast of courageous and lovable characters, this novel is sure to capture your heart.
by Toni Jensen
Toni Jensen grew up around guns: As a girl, she learned to shoot birds in rural Iowa with her father, a card-carrying member of the NRA. As an adult, she’s had guns waved in her face near Standing Rock, and felt their silent threat on the concealed-carry campus where she teaches. And she has always known that in this she is not alone. As a Métis woman, she is no stranger to the violence enacted on the bodies of Indigenous women, on Indigenous land, and the ways it is hidden, ignored, forgotten.
In Carry, Jensen maps her personal experience onto the historical, exploring how history is lived in the body and redefining the language we use to speak about violence in America. In the title chapter, Jensen connects the trauma of school shootings with her own experiences of racism and sexual assault on college campuses. “The Worry Line” explores the gun and gang violence in her neighborhood the year her daughter was born. “At the Workshop” focuses on her graduate school years, during which a workshop classmate repeatedly killed off thinly veiled versions of her in his stories. In “Women in the Fracklands,” Jensen takes the reader inside Standing Rock during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and bears witness to the peril faced by women in regions overcome by the fracking boom.
In prose at once forensic and deeply emotional, Toni Jensen shows herself to be a brave new voice and a fearless witness to her own difficult history—as well as to the violent cultural landscape in which she finds her coordinates. With each chapter, Carry reminds us that surviving in one’s country is not the same as surviving one’s country.
Jensen’s powerful memoir addresses her perspective as an Indigenous woman on the horrific gun violence in America. Carry is a valuable addition to the conversation around gun laws. Told through a series of essays, stories, and histories, this poetic memoir redefines the Indigenous experience through the lens of tremendous societal trauma.
Thank you for joining us for another Three to Read. To catch up on last week’s article, click here.