cover image Rez Dogs

Rez Dogs

Joseph Bruchac. Dial, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-59-332621-3

Bruchac (Peacemaker), who is Abenaki, pens a spare novel-in-verse that richly addresses an array of subjects, including Wabanaki legends and beliefs, residential schools, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the difficulties of online schooling with insecure Wi-Fi. Eighth grader Malian is quarantining with her grandparents after a short visit to their Penacook reservation is extended indefinitely due to shelter-in-place restrictions. Malian deeply misses her Boston-based parents but absorbs her grandparents’ stories—including how social services forcibly removed Malian’s mother from her parents to be adopted by a white family. When Malian finds a hound outside her door, one with white spots above its eyes that the Penacook people call a “four-eyed dog,” she names him Malsum, Wabanaki for wolf. As Malsum becomes Malian’s closest companion, Bruchac showcases how rez dogs are integral to Native community: “We humans were lucky/ they chose to live with us./ Or maybe it was the other way around—that we were the ones who chose/ to live with them.” Employing the third-person perspective, Bruchac intricately interweaves past and present stories, displaying how Native mistreatment has been cyclical with a deft touch in this rewarding intergenerational narrative. Ages 8–12. [em](June) [/em]