Yesterday evening (March 16, 2016), I learned that Emily Henry's The Love that Split the World has been picked up by Lionsgate.
For the last six weeks, I've been gathering resources for a full review of her book. That review will eventually be at American Indians in Children's Literature.
With the news about The Love that Split the World as a movie, I used Twitter to share some thoughts.
My tweets were seen by some as a public shaming of the author. Rather than considering the content of my critique, they chose to align themselves with the author.
They chose to support a white writer published by one of the Big Five whose book about Native peoples is deeply flawed. They chose to support a white writer whose book may be turned into a movie.
If a friend of mine had gotten things wrong in her book, I'd tell her to hold up and listen. Friendship, I think, means telling friends when they've messed up.
For those who are interested in what is wrong with The Love that Split the World, here's some of what I tweeted last night.
In my tweets, I addressed two problems: (1) the way that Natalie was adopted, and (2) the way that Native stories were used throughout the novel.
Natalie, the main character, is Native. She was adopted, as a baby, by a white couple.
Here, Natalie is thinking back to what she knows about her adoption:
I'm looking for a document that says "one-third...put into non-Native boarding schools and foster homes." Henry's description of ICWA doesn't jibe with the law itself:
What Natalie (Henry) says muddles what readers will take away from the novel. Lot of people want to adopt Native babies. I worry that Henry's description encourages people to find work-arounds to avoid that law.
People--in the present day--are doing that. It harms the child; it harms Native Nations. All in the name of... loving Indians? Here's more of that part of the book:
Now--you may be wondering--why did Natalie's birth mother give her up in the first place? The answer:
Plausible? Sure. But I interpret Natalie as, ultimately, the voice of a Good White Person. Good White People are very good at casting Native people as not-good-enough, but the measures of success (money, career) are ones that don't reflect Native values and Native communities.