Set on the Otter Lake Reserve in Ontario, Canada, Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor starts with a young, white man arriving in town on a 1953 Chief Indian motorcycle to say goodbye to Lillian Benojee, a well-respected community elder and a beloved mother and grandmother. "John" is Lillian's friend from the past, and her dying wish is for her daughter Maggie Second, the reserve chief, to find happiness and balance. While Maggie is busy juggling tribal politics as well as her life as a single mother, she still finds time to spend with this charming yet mysterious stranger. But who is this man really? He carves petroglyphs into limestone outcroppings, dances in the moonlight, ties sweetgrass braids, and his knowledge of the Anishnawbe language is exceptional for an outsider let alone lifelong residents of the reserve. While "John" may have wooed Chief Maggie Second, he is not fooling her son Virgil, her brother Wayne, or the area's large population of raccoons. But can they give "John" the boot before he starts to stir up real trouble?
Taylor uses a contemporary setting, clever characters, and a comedic plot to explore past and present indigenous issues including boarding school traumas, religion, tribal politics, and traditional native mythology. Motorcycles and Sweetgrass is full of humor and magic to keep the pages turning, and this is one book you don't need to be tricked into reading; check it out today!
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