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The Marrow Thieves

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Marrow Thieves Book Poster Image
Powerful sci-fi tale of Natives hunted for bone marrow.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Marrow Thieves spotlights Indigenous characters and reveals their past struggles. It presents opportunities to discuss colonialism, genocide, and climate change.

Positive Messages

Storytelling helps shape the world. By working together, diverse groups can survive adversity. Families come in many different configurations. It's important not to give up in times of trouble.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frenchie works hard to protect his companions, mostly following the rules but sometimes striking out on his own. He respects his elders and learns from their stories. He's greatly conflicted about seeking revenge on his enemies.

Violence

Violent scenes are infrequent, but powerful in their intensity. Needing bone marrow in order to dream and stay sane, Recruiters attack Frenchie's family, and there are casualties on both sides. A young child dies violently. A major character is killed. 

Sex

Frenchie and Rose develop a romantic relationship.They cuddle each other and kiss. Miigwans reminds Frenchie to use birth control, but the boy says they have not progressed that far. Another couple in the group becomes pregnant.

Language

The characters swear during moments of great stress. "Hell" and "damn" are said up to a dozen times each. "S--t" and "f--k" are employed two or three times each.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Marrow Thieves is near-future dystopian novel by Cherie Dimaline, set in a Canada ravaged by pollution and climate change, when Native people are robbed of their marrow to treat whites. Infrequent swearing includes "damn," "hell," "s--t," and "f--k." Frenchie and Rose develop a romantic relationship but do not progress all the way to intercourse. Violent scenes (shootings, being chased over cliffs) are infrequent but powerful, resulting in the deaths of important supporting characters. The Marrow Thieves is being adapted for TV. 

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What's the story?

As THE MARROW THIEVES begins, in a future where most people have lost the ability to dream, 15-year-old Frenchie and his brother Mitch are cornered by Recruiters, and Mitch allows himself to be captured. Heartbroken but determined to survive without being dragged off to a "school," Frenchie allies himself with a group of refugees heading north through a climate-changed Canada. As they travel, the group faces tragedy and learns the secrets of the hunters who capture Native people and rob them of their bone marrow in order to stop from going insane.

Is it any good?

Climate change promises to be a topic of vital importance to teen readers, and this near-future dystopian makes the subject compelling without succumbing to melodrama. The quest for safety undertaken by Frenchie and his companions is fraught with danger and tragedy, but their indomitable spirit allows them to survive. Each character is drawn with precision, but Frenchie commands attention with his struggle to be responsible while wanting to seek his own way. Author Cherie Dimaline crafts scenes brimming with dramatic intensity but also excels at creating quiet scenes for her characters. Smart, urgent, and moving, The Marrow Thieves is likely to appeal to a wide range of teen readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Marrow Thieves presents a dystopian future affected by climate change. How are people in your community working to mitigate threats from warming?

  • How does Frenchie's story reflect the history of Indigenous peoples? What does it have to say about the cost of colonialism? 

  • Why is storytelling important? Can stories sometimes be more powerful than the facts?

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