Established in 2006, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society. Scroll down for links to book reviews, Native media, and more.
Books for young adults are often unsettling to adults who think teens are growing up too fast. These adults are uncomfortable with novels about sex, drugs, suicide, rape. I’d be willing to bet that these same adults prefer novels about American Indians that are peopled with tragic Indians of days long past...
Richard Van Camp’s The Lesser Blessed is about Larry Sole. He’s not romantic, heroic, or savage. And he’s not the hottie you see on some of those ridiculous “Savage” bodice rippers churned out by Cassie Edwards. Unfortunately, a lot of adults who read those bodice rippers and similar novels will reject Lesser Blessed because it does not align with their stereotypical taste and fantasies.
Larry Sole is a 16 year old boy of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation in the Northwest Territories of Canada. He’s in high school. He's skinny. He listens to rock music. And, he's in love.
Van Camp doesn’t turn away from the experiences high school kids have with drugs, sex, and fights, but he doesn’t glorify these moments either.
Van Camp’s story is gracefully and naturally, infused with Larry’s Nativeness. The stories told to him by Jed, his mother’s boyfriend, just are. Being Native isn’t something that is planned, that is orchestrated. It just is.
The Lesser Blessed. Published in 2004 by Douglas & McIntyre. A novel for young adults. Add it to your shelf. Recommend it to young adults you know.