Apple: (Skin to the Core)

Levine Querido. Oct. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646140138.
Gr 7 Up–This bittersweet but ultimately inspiring memoir in verse chronicles Gansworth’s experience raised on a reservation. Gansworth, who is an enrolled Onondaga writer and artist, was born and raised at the Tuscarora Nation. The text aims to illuminate the truth about his family history and the trauma that shaped Gansworth’s life. Black-and-white photos and original graphic art supplement the text. The book’s very effective format creates emotional resonance. The straightforward narrative showcases themes of betrayal, racism, struggle, acceptance, resilience, risk, coming of age, and the power of family and community. The text opens by confronting and reclaiming the slur “Apple,” which is a derogatory term used to describe a Native person who is “red on the outside, white on the inside.” Gansworth’s deft storytelling skills shine; he is not afraid to examine uncomfortable truths. He writes honestly about the appropriation of Native American songs and dances, the effects of boarding school on both sets of grandparents, learning his native language, longing for his father’s approval, friendship, feeling lost, and leaving home for college. Throughout the narrative, he incorporates references to pop culture, such as television programs, movies, Batman, comic books, the Beatles, KISS, and Pink Floyd. All teens will relate to Gansworth’s profound portraits of joy, pain, and hope.
VERDICT A well-written and captivating autobiography about the modern-day Indigenous experience that should be widely shared. Recommended for middle and high school libraries.

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