cover image Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity

Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity

Leah Myers. Norton, $26 (176p) ISBN 978-1-324-03670-8

In this searing debut, Myers—the last member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in her family line—explores what it means to be “a Native woman at the end of a culture.” “No one taught me to be Native American,” she begins. As a child, Myers yearned to see herself in mainstream media, but found only offensive stereotypes. As an adult, she began to learn the S’Klallam language and folklore, and here adapts the Pacific Northwest tradition of totem storytelling to chart the impacts of an “extinction happening in real time” on her own lineage. She represents her great-grandmother, whose children with a Russian Jewish immigrant alienated her from both Native and white communities, as a bear; her grandmother, who reconnected with her heritage late in life, as the determined salmon; and her mother as the restless hummingbird. Myers, meanwhile, is the creative raven, tasked with keeping their family history alive. Myers’s fierce testimony is both record and reclamation of that history, told simply and beautifully. Any family would be lucky to have their story handled with this much care. (May)