a Cree Coming of Age
The author recounts his childhood growing up in the tiny village of Smith, Alberta. His mother, Bertha, shared narratives of their culture, their family and the cruelty that she and her sisters endured in residential school. Bertha taught Darrel to be proud of his heritage. But in a series of tragic events, Darrel's mother became unstable, and their home life became chaotic. Sweet and innocent by nature, Darrel struggled to maintain his grades, while changing homes many times, witnessing violence, caring for his younger siblings and suffering abuse at the hands of his surrogate father. Then, his older brother's gender transition provoked Darrel to deeply question his own sexual identity. The fractured narrative of Mamaskatch mirrors Bertha's attempts to reckon with the trauma and abuse she faced in her own life, and captures an intensely moving portrait of a family of strong personalities, deep ties and the shared history that both binds and haunts them.
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