Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Nation)
My reaction upon finishing Hearts Unbroken is undefinable. The main character, Louise, is white passing, like me, and that’s something new to me. Unlike me, she is a Native girl in a mostly white high school. I went to school with lots of Natives. Lots of people who knew my identity. I never had to argue about who I was, heck a lot of us were family or near enough. She has to choose to fight and that’s tough. I was holding back tears finishing the book on my lunch break, not because of a particularly sad moment, though those exist, but just for the sake of this book existing. My heart got fluttery-sad every time characters spoke a few words of Mvskoke, the language of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Okmulgee, Oklahoma. How wonderful for the characters to get to learn their language. I’m jealous of that opportunity. I also felt rushes of anger at every mention and description of “Hollywood Indians” and mascots. Those racist caricatures of mine and other Indigenous cultures have no place in this world and I felt the same hurt as Louise. Cynthia, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation herself, tackles some heavy topics, and she does it with grace. I highly recommend this book for young adult and adult readers.
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