Apple in the Middle

264p. North Dakota State University. Aug. 2018. Tr $25.95. ISBN 9781946163073.
OrangeReviewStarGr 6 Up—This coming-of-age debut tackles what it means to belong. Apple is quirky, blurts things out to classmates, pretends to be a foreign exchange student, and feels responsible for her mother's death. She is Native, living with her nonindigenous family. Her dad and stepmom decide to send her to Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation to stay with her grandparents, strangers to her, over the summer. Apple's cousin Junior becomes her protector, and her cousin Nezzie, her first best friend. Apple is threatened by Karl, a man who knew her mother growing up and does not think she is "Indian" enough. The prologue sets readers up for a scene in which Karl's son chases her into an open grave, where she finally realizes that her mother has been with her all along. An accident at the end of the book challenges the protagonist to figure out her own misgivings and how she can bridge both worlds. Quigley shares the dynamics of reservation life—phrases, puckered lips to point, and extended families with aunties and cousins—with authenticity and warmth. The author drops nuggets of Native history and challenges readers to learn more.
VERDICT A strong story with themes that resonate with many adolescents as they try to figure out who they are in life. Highly recommended.

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