How about a book that makes you barge into your boss's office to read a page of poetry from? That you dream of? That every movie, song, book, moment that follows continues to evoke in some way?
The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside."
Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.
Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.
Originally conceived as a series of paintings, this ambitious memoir in verse by Gansworth (Give Me Some Truth), an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, explores intersectional identities alongside matters of generational and personal experience, erasure, and memory: "So much of my culture feels on the verge of vanishing. I wonder what part of that I'm contributing to with my own lack of knowledge." Gansworth first describes his family's history, beginning with his grandfather's time in Native American boarding schools, where "you are being taught systematically to forget so that you will have nothing left to pass on to your children." Subsequent sections detail variations on feeling like an outsider: Onondaga Gansworth's childhood on a Tuscarora reservation, the way his early interest in art and pop culture (Batman, the Beatles) made him stand out among his peers, and his adulthood as a gay man after leaving the reservation. Phrases and \nconcepts circle and repeat throughout "apple," for example, appears both as a pejorative ("red on the outside, white on the inside") and in reference to the Beatles' Apple Records, after which the work is structured creating a raw, layered story about love and loss of community, culture, and place. Family photos, black-and-white reproductions of the author's paintings, and project "liner notes" round out the telling. Ages 12 up.