A young girl flees her war-torn home in the hopes of finding gold in a cold wilderness of what seems like Alaska. There, she finds the Native women are abused, often disfigured and one of their eyes brutally taken, and forced into being guides for treasure hunters who want nothing more than to exploit the land and leave it as destroyed as its Native people. The young lady befriends a three-legged dog that has also been disfigured and abandoned by a treasure hunter, and seems to have a giant wolf spirit watching her and the treasure hunters. Despite nearly starving, an even harsher winter coming, and finding no gold, she decides to partner with some of the Native women to enact revenge on the exploitive men and finally stand up for her village as well.
This book was beautiful and haunting, especially the overt reminders of the destruction humans are working upon the earth every day. Tamarit uses a lot of Native imagery and other mythological influences in her story - Mother Earth is feminine and it is up to the women to restore her balance; the violence and exploitation are wholly masculine, and the imbalance among the two forces allow for destruction and destitution of the natural resources. The wolf spirit that follows the characters could have its origin in many Native American tribal origin stories where wolf spirits are often vital in creation mythos. Aside from these deeper meanings, Tamarit develops some interesting characters without using a lot of dialogue and instead relies on her illustrations and showing meaningful actions. There are several wordless pages, but readers won't have any trouble pulling together the narrative across the page. The message can be a little heavy handed at times, however, as if Tamarit wanted to make extra sure that the audience understood her position on exploitation of Earth's resources.
There are some pretty violent panels, a fairly scary wolf that follows them around, and a heavy philosophical debate that makes this better for teen readers.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Publication Date: May 9, 2023
ISBN: 9781683967569 (Hardcover)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Fiction, Survival, Mythology, Native American, Fantagraphics
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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