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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of This House Is Not a Home by Katlia

Katlia's story is based on actual events, detailing the displacement of Indigenous people and the devastating consequences of greed, the abuse of power, and a disregard for other cultures.

Katlia's novel This House Is Not a Home is a novel of Indigenous people displaced by greedy settlers.

The story takes place in northern Canada, but the tragedy is uncomfortably and universally familiar and is based on real-life events: Indigenous children kidnapped and sent to residential schools, homes snatched, traditions erased, and a culture dismissed.

Ko is an Indigenous man who is taken advantage of time after time. He and others in his culture are made to feel less-than because the rules of the game have changed--hunting, subsisting off the land, and honoring long-held traditions are no longer respected (nor are they, in any practical sense, allowed).

The land is controlled by those who would keep moving the goalposts, obfuscating the terms of living, and cheating the Indigenous out of their familial lands. Ko and his family suffer. Their health, safety, and security are all deeply jeopardized by the circumstances of their current lives: their faulty homes, built by strangers without Indigenous people's request on the land that used to support them--homes they never desired but have been forced to take on; the mounting expenses of upkeep and maintenance costs; and the crooked manner in which they are led to sell the junk houses to free up cash for the new-to-them economy based upon it. In Ko's case, it seems he is left with nothing.

The difficult topics raised are important to explore and discuss. Katlia also explores complicated issues such as addiction, respecting elders, and family loyalty. Yet the bad guys are purely evil here, and there are few subtleties, gray areas, or character complexities presented in the story for the reader to explore.

Narrator Brianne Tucker has a cheerful tone to her voice, which at times felt out of keeping with the grim story of the horrendous abuses of power and consistent disregard for Indigenous people which lead to disastrous consequences for real-life versions of Ko and other Indigenous people.

I received an audiobook edition of this book courtesy of Libro.fm and Fernwood Publishing.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Katlia is a Cree and Metis writer.

A book that kept coming to mind as I read this one is This Tender Land, historical fiction by William Kent Krueger. It details the goings-on at an Indian Training School and the "restructuring" that cut off many American Indians from their culture, their families, and their history and traditions.

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