Apple in the Middle

Dawn Quigley, Suzzanne Kelley (Editor-In-Chief), Jamie Hohnadel Trosen (Illustrator, Cover Design by)
Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a prairie nigger-a racial slur for someone of white and Indian descendance-not that she really even knows how to be an Indian in the first place. Too bad the white world doesn't accept her either. After her wealthy father gives her the boot one summer, Apple reluctantly agrees to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain (North Dakota) Indian Reservation for the first time. It should have been easy, except that she makes all kinds of mistakes as she deals with the culture shock of Indian customs and the Native Michif language, while trying to find a connection to her dead mother. She also has to deal with a vengeful Indian man, Karl, who has a violent, granite-sized chip on his shoulder because he loved her mother in high school but now hates Apple because her mom married a white man. As Apple meets her Indian relatives this summer, she finds that she just may have found a place to belong. One by one, each character-ranging from age five to eighty-five-teaches her, through wit and wisdom, what it means to be a Native person, but also to be a human being while finding her place in the world. Apple shatters Indian stereotypes and learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color.


Reviewed: 2019-11-09

Dawn Quigley has written so beautifully and expressively from the perspective of Apple, a fifteen year old girl discovering a whole other side to her family. The side of her mother who died in childbirth. Apple's mother was Turtle Mountain Ojibwe as is Dawn Quigley. It is this familiarity, I believe, that powers Quigley's writing. As Apple learns about her family and heritage, so does the reader. Gently, and with love, young readers can gain an understanding of the stereotypes and slurs that are callously hurled at Native peoples. I recommend this book for upper middle grade and young adult readers, but also to adults. There are many people who feel "in the middle" and maybe with the help of Apple's story, they can feel less alone.

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