Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 18
- Grade: 8 to 12
Winner of the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award (Young People's Literature - Text)
Winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize
Winner of the 2018 Sunburst Award
Winner of the 2018 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
Winner of the 2018 Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature
Just when you think you have nothing left to lose, they come for your dreams.
Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden - but what they don't know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.
About the author
Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. Her novels include Red Rooms, The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy, A Gentle Habit, The Marrow Thieves and Empire of Wild. 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 Indigenous Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library. Her young adult novel The Marrow Thieves has won the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Kirkus Prize, the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature and was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award and, among other honors, was a fan favorite in the 2018 edition of CBC's Canada Reads. It was also a Book of the Year on numerous lists including NPR, School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, the Globe & Mail, Quill & Quire and the CBC. From the Georgian Bay Métis Community in Ontario, she now lives in Vancouver.
- Nominated, Land of Enchantment Book Award
- Commended, Global Read Aloud
- Winner, One Book, One London
- Winner, One Book, One Brampton
- Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
- Short-listed, Indigenous Literature Award
- Winner, Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic
- Nominated, Forest of Reading - White Pine Awards
- Winner, Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
- Short-listed, CBC Canada Reads
- Short-listed, Trillium Book Award
- Winner, CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature
- Winner, Kirkus Prize (Young Readers' Literature)
- Commended, OLA Best Bets
- Winner, Governor General's Literary Award (Young People's Literature - Text)
"This book is classified as Young Adult fiction, but do not let that label deter you. While being accessible to younger readers, the book should be read by folks of all ages, in Canada and abroad. It is a sensational novel both thrilling in its writing and profound in its social commentary on colonialism, racism and the systematic oppression of Indigenous communities."
“In The Marrow Thieves’ dystopian Canada, irreparably marred by climate change, humanity has grown so traumatized that only Indigenous people retain the ability to dream. So the government is kidnapping them and harvesting their bone marrow in a desperate, mysterious effort to make white people’s REM cycles great again. It’s a jarring allegory for North America’s colonial past and a global future that looks more precarious every day, and one that Cherie Dimaline, a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, gracefully unfurls in her 2017 novel. But The Marrow Thieves, a winner of the Kirkus Prize and Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award, isn’t just a political statement. It’s also a riveting, adventure-packed coming-of-age story whose orphaned hero, an Indigenous 16-year-old boy known as Frenchie, makes an arduous northward journey to what he and his companions hope will be relative safety, and finds community and culture in the face of violence and dehumanization.”
“Miigwans is a true hero; in him Dimaline creates a character of tremendous emotional depth and tenderness, connecting readers with the complexity and compassion of Indigenous people. A dystopian world that is all too real and that has much to say about our own.” Starred review
“Dimaline single-handedly flips the dystopia genre on its head with her runaway hit, The Marrow Thieves, a gritty coming-of-age story in which Indigenous people are hunted for their dream-containing, world-saving bone marrow in a landscape ravaged by climate collapse and madness. A deftly woven and brutal tale of colonialism and environmental neglect but also of community, culture, resilience and hope. Inventive, rich, important.”
"[The Marrow Thieves] brilliantly connects the legacy of residential schools to a dystopian post-climate-change future where only Indigenous people are able to dream. Dimaline’s novel reminds us of the power of storytelling and the importance of community, reinforced for the disenfranchised children by the wisdom of the heroic elder, Miigwans. The writing is painful yet beautiful, bleak but ultimately hopeful. In this era of reconciliation, Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves is a work of speculative fiction that resonates and stays with the reader long past the last page."
Sunburst Award Jury Citation
In The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline creates a near-future world which distinctly echoes our own, current and past traumas that have come back to repeat themselves, fiction with a basis in reality that gives the narrative a sheen of hard truths, following the trials and tribulations of a relatable cast of characters and their struggles to survive, and live their lives with the love and safety denied to them. The high-stakes tension of each scene pulls the reader along through the story, with a core message about our dreams and culture, which despite losses, has the potential to heal, and the power to restore.
Trillium Book Award Jury Citation
"A timely and necessary read ... powerful and endlessly smart, it’s a crucial work of fiction for people of all ages." Starred review
Quill & Quire
There's a quality in Dimaline's writing that reached from the page, into my being ... That's a specific reference to the residential schools of the past, where so much was taken from Native children. It is one of many points in The Marrow Thieves where - painfully or with exquisite beauty - Dimaline's story resonates with me. It will resonate with other Native readers, too, especially those who are Anishinabe. Several tribal nations are mentioned in here, too ... There's so much more to say ... about Miggs and Isaac, about Ri, about Minerva, about French. But I'll stop and let you be with these achingly dear characters. I highly recommend The Marrow Thieves.
American Indians in Children's Literature
"The way that [Dimaline] built these characters and this community was really incredible. You felt their connections, you felt how much they loved each other and had really built this family on the road."
YA Cafe Podcast