Two Tribes

HarperCollins/Heartdrum. Aug. 2023. 256p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780062983596; pap. $15.99. ISBN 9780062983589.
Gr 5 Up–Mia lives with her Jewish mom and stepdad in Los Angeles and attends a Jewish community school. However, she feels different from her classmates and friends because she is not just Jewish. Her father is Native American, and even though she hasn’t lived with him most of her life, Mia longs to learn about that part of her heritage. Because her mom doesn’t like talking about her dad, Mia hatches a plan with her best friend to secretly visit him and his family in Oklahoma. There she attends a powwow, meets extended family, and discovers answers to many of her questions about the Muscogee Nation culture. Then Mia’s parents discover she lied to both of them about the trip, and Mia is whisked back to L.A. How will she continue to become who she really is, a member of two tribes? Every sentence in this coming-of-age story is purposeful; whether it is demonstrating how to deal with those who would mock her heritage and standing up for who she is, teaching about Jewish and Muscogee Nation culture and heritage, or bringing to light the misrepresentation of Native Americans in books and pop culture, each lesson is artfully woven into the story of a young girl learning to discover and fight for who she really is. The adults are deeply supportive and model how to accept responsibility for mistakes and apologize. All readers will walk away feeling empowered to embrace their unique backgrounds. The artwork complements the text perfectly as Cohen uses internal monologues to great visual effect. The back matter includes an author’s note explaining the use of the term “Indian” as well as a Mvskoke glossary.
VERDICT A must-purchase for young readers everywhere on how to learn about, be empowered by, and embrace one’s identity.

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