Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Fiction
Representation: Indigenous (Lipan Apache), Asexual, Diverse
Content Warning: Discussion of genocide of Natives
Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America has been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.
Seventeen-year-old Elatsoe (“Ellie” for short) lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect façade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family. - Levine Querido website
Elatsoe is a wonderfully creative book with diverse characters, beautiful writing, and a really cool plot. Little Badger gave us an Indigenous supernatural detective/hero with justice at the core of the story. Not only do we get a peek into Elatsoe's experience within Lipan Apache culture, we also get History and connection to our ancestors. Each of the characters draw strength (whether for good or bad) from their ancestors.
Elatsoe is asexual, but this is not a main plot point, simply fact. I love that. Everyone knows and accepts her as she is. She and her parents have a mutual trust of each other. This is rare for books with curious preteen/teen characters. It allows for their wisdom to be a part of the story and help Elatsoe solve this crime. Her parent's aren't annoying side characters, they are her anchors. I also love the stories about Six-Great and how she continues to live through her descendants. More books like this, please!!
I recommend this book to anyone (ages 7/8 and up). It can help with discussions of the History of America's treatment of Indigenous people, teach healthy relationships with caregivers, and inspire!