Darrel J. McLeod
A Cree Coming of Age
This event includes a book signing
August 6, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed author DARREL J. MCLEOD for a discussion of his debut book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. This event is co-sponsored by Mass Humanities.
As a small boy in remote Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod is immersed in his Cree family’s history, passed down in the stories of his mother, Bertha. There he is surrounded by her tales of joy and horror—of the strong men in their family, of her love for Darrel, and of the cruelty she and her sisters endured in residential school—as well as his many siblings and cousins, and the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea. And there young Darrel learns to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that will guide him throughout his life.
But after a series of tragic losses, Bertha turns wild and unstable, and their home life becomes chaotic. Sweet and eager to please, Darrel struggles to maintain his grades and pursue interests in music and science while changing homes, witnessing domestic violence, caring for his younger siblings, and suffering abuse at the hands of his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he begins to question and grapple with his sexual identity—a reckoning complicated by the repercussions of his abuse and his sibling’s own gender transition.
Thrillingly written in a series of fractured vignettes, and unflinchingly honest, Mamaskatch—“It’s a wonder!” in Cree—is a heartbreaking account of how traumas are passed down from one generation to the next, and an uplifting story of one individual who overcame enormous obstacles in pursuit of a fulfilling and adventurous life.
Praise for Mamaskatch
"Mamaskatch reminded me of my childhood and the Indigenous people I love dearly. The hard and brilliant life breathing on the pages brought me to tears, to joy, and to grace. Darrel J. McLeod tells a coming-of-age tale familiar to many Indigenous people, but our histories, and our families' truths, are mostly unwritten. The work he's doing is powerful and overdue." ―Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries
"McLeod's memoir is one that will get under your skin for so many reasons, and then live there. The horrors of residential schools, the complications of being Indigenous in a world that wishes we would go away, and family ties that stretch to the point of breaking in almost every way imaginable, not to mention struggles with identity and sexuality. It may sound like too much for one narrative to support, but McLeod handles it with the light, magical touch of a born storyteller. This story is one you won't soon forget. Heartbreaking, uplifting, terrifying . . . yes, all these things, and more." ―Chris La Tray, Fact & Fiction
“A haunting and joyful ode to the resilience of an often complicated, always extraordinary mother. Intimate and affecting, Mamaskatch asks complex questions about the legacies we inherit and the way in which self-invention is a crucial act of survival.” ―Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
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Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
Featured event books will be for sale at the event. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
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