Kristin recently enjoyed Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley, a debut Young Adult novel that takes on an adolescent's quest for identity. Here's Kristin's review:
In this debut novel by Dawn Quigley, we are taken on an adolescent quest for identity between European American and Native American cultures. The story begins by introducing Apple Starkington, a precocious teenager who has grown up as an outsider in a typical American town. She lives with her wealthy father who has remarried and refuses to talk about her Ojibwe mother, who named Apple on her deathbed.
Apple is quirky and curious, but blurts things out too fast, struggles to fit in and has no friends. To make matters worse, she has tried to hide her Native American heritage ever since the moment she was called a racial slur by a fellow classmate. However, everything changes for Apple one summer when her father gives her the boot and sends her to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation to see her mother’s family. At first, Apple once again feels out of place and is apprehensive to meet all her new relatives. She makes numerous mistakes as she struggles to learn the customs and language of her new family. Eventually though, each new relative teaches her, through wit and wisdom, what it means to be a Native American, but also how to be a human being while finding her place in the world.
This novel is suitable for both teen and adult readers alike because the author does a fabulous job of developing the characters realistically and by accurately displaying how difficult it can be for a young person to exist in the space between different cultures. Embedded within the story is also a great deal of interesting background information on the Turtle Mountain Michif language.
It is not surprising that this novel has won national praise from the American Indian Library Association by being nominated for the American Indian Youth Literature Awards in 2020. Readers of all ages will learn something new from Apple in the Middle and you can be sure that this story will speak to any young person regardless of race or class who finds themselves in the middle.
Reserve Apple in the Middle via our online catalogue here.
Check out Kristin's other picks here.