cover image Two Tribes

Two Tribes

Emily Bowen Cohen. Heartdrum, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-298359-6; $15.99 paper ISBN 978-0-06-298358-9

A tween with divorced parents feels torn about her heritage in this profound graphic novel, Cohen’s debut. Since her Jewish mother left her Muscogee father, middle schooler Mia has been raised by her mother and new stepfather. She attends a Los Angeles Jewish day school and is preparing for her upcoming bat mitzvah. When a school bully claims she’s “not a real Indian” because she doesn’t embody his stereotypical depiction of an Indigenous person, Mia wonders, “How can I say I’m Native if I don’t know anything about it?” Wanting to connect with her Indigenous family, she tells her mother she’s sleeping over at a friend’s house and runs away to Tulsa, Okla., to visit her father. There, she meets her extended family and learns about many Muscogee Nation traditions and customs at a powwow, until her parents discover her lie. “Just like Mia, I am Muscogee (Creek) and Jewish,” Cohen writes in a concluding author’s note. In Mia’s struggle to reconcile her ancestries, the creator develops a credible portrayal of self-image and acceptance. Plentiful panels rendered in earth tones further enhance this nuanced portrait of Mia’s search for identity. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Aug.)