True Confessions of a Heartless Girl – Martha Brooks

Noreen Stall is a teenager you want to alternately give a hug and give a hard shake.  True Confessions tells the story of Noreen Stall – seventeen year old girl with a knack for trouble.  She lands in Pembina Lake, MB and shakes up the residents of the town.  Martha Brooks has written a compelling portrait of the people of Pembina Lake and the stranger, Noreen.  All the characters pull on your heartstrings.  You want things to turn out well for them.  This book would make a marvellous companion to the overused, well-loved and out of date, Outsiders.  I was particularly taken with the characters of Wesley Cuthand and Dolores Harper.  Although the book is not about indigenous Canadians or indigenous culture, these characters and this book turns against the tide of street people and alcoholics and toward a more complex picture of modern indigenous, in this case, Cree, people.  A must for a school library collection.

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2 Comments

Filed under children's lit, curriculum, education, library, literacy

2 responses to “True Confessions of a Heartless Girl – Martha Brooks

  1. Debbie Pushor

    Susan, I’m really glad you mentioned The Outsiders. Like you, I find the continued use of this novel in classrooms problematic. It stereotypes Aboriginal people as wild and savage and it uses derogatory language such as “squaw.” I do think there are many alternative books which could be read in place of The Outsiders in schools. Do you have such a listing? If you do, can you share it with us or perhaps let us know where to find such titles?

    I also think it’s important that we make accessible to teachers resources such as Through Indian Eyes and The Broken Flute, and websites such as Oyate, which critique children’s literature from an Aboriginal perspective. How do we ensure teachers know of these resources and the perspective on literature they make available to us?

    How do we push back against the continued use of ‘classics’ such as The Outsiders or The Indian in the Cupboard?

  2. I think one of the possible pushes can be using different strategies for teaching literature. I think if we break the whole class novel study mold we can come a long way in changing the pre-sets. We can offer suggestions for possible companion pieces. We can set up the questions to trouble the waters a little.

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