Treasures on the Shelves: A time to celebrate with a good book

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Treasures on the Shelves

Holly Howze

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, there is another celebration taking place with Native American Heritage Month. Established in 1990 with the intent of recognizing and celebrating the contributions and heritage of indigenous peoples of America, this year’s theme is Tribal Sovereignty and Identity.

The publishing industry has also been doing its part to chronicle not just the stories of Native Americans but of Indigenous peoples from around the world. Four recent books offer some of the best new fiction in this genre. 

“The Berry Pickers” by Amanda Peters was recently named the Discover Prize winner by Barnes & Noble. Set in Maine, the story involves a child of Mi’kmaq heritage who goes missing during a berry harvest and the effects the disappearance has on two communities over the ensuing years. 

John Teschner, a former Virginia resident, has chosen the Hawaiian location of Kaua’i for his second novel, “Valley of Refuge.” In a plot that is eerily prescient of the Maui wildfires and their aftermath, a native family finds themselves locked in battle with a world-famous billionaire who is determined to buy their ancestral land. This is a thriller with a conscience as the author examines ownership vs stewardship and the fraught history of exploitation of Indigenous resources. 

Both Native Americans and African Americans often have entwined histories, a topic explored by Tiya Miles in “The Cherokee Rose.” Three generations of women have connections to Hold House, an historic home that was owned by a Cherokee chief during the time of the Trail of Tears. Each character has a unique tie to the property, woven into the history of the displacement of Indigenous and enslaved peoples. 

Nalini Singh is a writer who often includes historical information about the Maori tribe of her native New Zealand in her novels. “A Madness of Sunshine” is a murder mystery set on the West Coast of the island, where the Maori culture is struggling to survive as the modern world pushes it into the past. Solving the crime will involve the citizens of a wealthy community confronting their part in erasing this heritage. 

Enjoy a book as you celebrate a happy Thanksgiving this year! 

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at lcplsbooks@ gmail.com.