Reading Guide: The Marrow Thieves

About the book

The Marrow Thieves, by Canadian Métis author, Cherie Dimaline, is this year’s primary book selection. A 2018 Canada Reads finalist, the young-adult novel imagines a dystopian future where global warming has ravaged the earth and, with it, most people’s ability to dream. Indigenous people, who can still dream, are hunted for their marrow to create a serum for others. The story follows Frenchie, a teenager on the run. After his brother is captured, Frenchie must create an ad hoc family and fight to preserve his people. Save the date: Dimaline will visit Saint Paul March 11-13, 2020.

Read the book now with no wait:

The Marrow Thieves

Meet the author

Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. Her first book, Red Rooms, was published in 2007, and her novel The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy was released in 2013. In 2014, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and became the first Aboriginal Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library. Her book A Gentle Habit was published in August 2016.

In 2017, The Marrow Thieves won the Governor General's Literary Award for Young people's literature — text and the Kirkus Prize for young readers' literature. It is currently being adapted for television.

Discussion Questions

  1. How has climate change and severe weather impacted the landscape Frenchie navigates? How has it affected the main characters’ daily lives? What impact has it had on the non-indigenous population?
  2. How has climate change impacted you? Do you think the future Dimaline envisions is possible? Why or why not?
  3. Around the world, youth have been leading the charge on climate action. In indigenous communities, Elders hold an honored place. Describe how Frenchie’s family band is structured so that people of all ages are able to bring their strengths to the group. How do you see others in our community engaging or not engaging with this movement?
  4. Discuss the role of story-telling in the novel. How do stories help define the concept of home?
  5. Reflect on two characters’ coming-to stories. What events have shaped their lives? Where do they find hope?
  6. When Rose teaches Frenchie the word ‘nishin,’ good, he ‘turn[s] the word over in [his] throat like a stone; a prayer [he] couldn’t add breath to, a world [he] wasn’t willing to release’ (page 39). What role does language play in culture? How does the loss of language affect a culture and its people? Examine why Frenchie and the others are so hungry for bits of ‘the language’.
  7. Miig states that a ‘man without dreams is just a meaty machine with a broken gauge’ (page 88). Why do you think dreams are so important? What would it be like to live without dreams?
  8. Cherie Dimaline stated, “I wanted people to come away saying, ‘I would never let that happen,’ or, more correctly, ‘I would never let that happen again.’” Compare and contrast this novel to real historical events (e.g. residential schools). How do these events relate to each other as well as to the book?
  9. Cherie Dimaline speaks to the need for humor and joy in stories about survival. Where do you see joy and laughter in Frenchie’s story? What role does it play?

More Resources

More books by Cherie Dimaline

The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy

A Gentle Habit