Published: 29 May 2018
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Category: Young Adult
Carson Mastick is entering his senior year of high school and desperate to make his mark, on the reservation and off. A rock band — and winning the local Battle of the Bands, with its first prize of a trip to New York City — is his best shot. But things keep getting in the way. Small matters like the lack of an actual band, or the fact that his brother just got shot confronting the racist owner of a local restaurant.
Maggi Bokoni has just moved back to the reservation from the city with her family. She’s dying to stop making the same traditional artwork her family sells to tourists (conceptual stuff is cooler), stop feeling out of place in her new (old) home, and stop being treated like a child. She might like to fall in love for the first time too.
Carson and Maggi — along with their friend Lewis — will navigate loud protests, even louder music, and first love in this stirring novel about coming together in a world defined by difference.
I haven’t heard a lot of talk about this book yet and to be honest I don’t remember how it ended up on my to-be-read shelf, but when I wanted to feature a book today this one stood out. It’s not just because it’s a book about music, which is a good feature to have for me to read it. Carson seems to have a lot of passion for his art, despite not actually having a band yet.
It’s because I haven’t seen a lot of books featuring Indigenous young adults. Carson, one of the main characters, looks to be a young man who has lived his whole live on a reservation and wants to make his mark via music both on and off of it, but faces racism, particularly because of the death of his brother at the hands of a local restaurant owner.
Maggi, the other main character, is also looking to figure out her place in the world through her art, using it in a new way rather than fall into the mold of traditional art. It makes me wonder how this will play out. Will she want to break away entirely? Are there still traces of her heritage in the conceptual pieces she creates? Will we get to see any of those pieces as illustrations in the book? How will Maggi and Carson relate to each other and their personal relationships with life on the reservation?
Eric Gansworth was raised in Tuscarora Nation and is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, so I think this qualifies as #ownvoices. It feels like it will be an interesting piece of writing. I hope there’s some more buzz about it as we get closer to publishing time so I can get a better sense of it before the publication date.