Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

Milkweed. Jun. 2019. 240p. pap. ISBN 9781571313874. $16; ISBN 9781771622004. $29.95. MEMOIR
In his first book, McLeod writes about life with a fractured family and surviving a tumultuous childhood. The memoir begins with the story of McLeod's mother, Bertha, who, along with several female relatives, was sent to a Catholic residential school from which they eventually escaped. Bertha raised her children Catholic alongside a strong respect for Cree traditions. As a result of Bertha's alcoholism, McLeod spent time living with an extended family, ultimately returning home to his mother. The author struggles to keep up with schoolwork while caring for younger siblings and suffering abuse, physical and sexual, from his brother-in-law. This is not your ordinary coming-of-age story; it's a multilayered account of a boy growing into manhood questioning his own gender identity while also confronting racism and bullying.
VERDICT This poignant memoir presents a story about growing up surrounded by difficulties and also a window into the world of the Cree.

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