Canada Reads

10 books to read if you loved Canada Reads winner Five Little Indians

If you loved the Canada Reads 2022-winning novel championed by Christian Allaire, check out these other great Canadian books.

Christian Allaire championed Michelle Good's novel on Canada Reads 2022

Five Little Indians is a novel by Michelle Good. (HarperCollins, Silken Sellinger Photography)

The great Canadian book debate has come to an end for another year. What should you read next? CBC Books has some ideas for you.

Christian Allaire championed Five Little Indians by Michelle Good and won Canada Reads 2022.

Five Little Indians follows five characters — Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie — who were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released without resources and left to establish adult lives in eastside Vancouver. Haunted by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past. 

Five Little Indians is Good's debut novel. It also won the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

If you have finished Five Little Indians and are looking for a new read, check out these Canadian books that explore similar themes — including intergenerational trauma, identity, healing and reconciliation. 

      The Break by Katherena Vermette

      Katherena Vermette is the author of the novel The Break. (CBC)

      Residents of Winnipeg's North End neighbourhood take turns narrating Katherena Vermette's debut novel The Break. The story centres around a terrible trauma and the characters that surround it, including Stella, a Métis mother who witnesses the crime, Scott, a Métis police officer who feels caught between worlds, Phoenix, a homeless teenager recently released from juvenile detention, and many other unforgettable voices.

      The Break was championed on Canada Reads 2017 and was a finalist for both the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. Vermette's follow-up novel, The Strangersis set in the same world as The Break. It won the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

      Vermette is a Métis writer living in Winnipeg. Her other books include the poetry collections North End Love Songs and river woman, and the four-book graphic novel series A Girl Called EchoNorth End Love Songs won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

        Author Katherena Vermette brought along her baby girl Ruby when she dropped by our studio in Toronto to take The Next Chapter's Proust questionnaire.

        Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

        Birdie is a novel by Tracey Lindberg. (Stacy Swanson, HarperCollins Canada)

        Birdie is the story of Bernice, a Cree woman who leaves her home in northern Alberta and travels to British Columbia. On her journey west, she processes earlier tragedies and learns more about her past and her history.

        Birdie was championed on Canada Reads 2016.

        Tracey Lindberg is a Cree lawyer, professor, activist, blues singer and expert in Indigenous law. Birdie is her debut novel.

        Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

        Tanya Talaga highlights the lives of seven Indigenous students in Seven Fallen Feathers. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star/House of Anansi)

        In Seven Fallen Feathers, journalist Tanya Talaga travels to Thunder Bay, Ont., to investigate the deaths of seven Indigenous teenagers: Jordan Wabasse, Kyle Morrisseau, Curran Strang, Robyn Harper, Paul Panacheese, Reggie Bushie and Jethro Anderson. Talaga honours their lives and looks at what their untimely deaths reveal about the injustices faced by Indigenous communities on a daily basis.

        Seven Fallen Feathers is a national-bestselling book. It won the RBC Taylor Prize, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult Award in 2017.

        Talaga is an award-winning investigative journalist. In 2017, she was named the Atkinson Fellow for public policy. The work produced during this period form the basis of Talaga's 2018 CBC Massey Lectures, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward.

        More and more Indigenous creatives are turning to podcasting as a way to share stories. This week on Unreserved, we're talking with Indigenous podcasters who are decolonizing the airwaves.

        Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

        A composite photo of a book cover, featuring a snowed in car in a field, and the book's author, a 40something man with two long braids.
        Moon of the Crusted Snow is a book by Waubgeshig Rice. (ECW Press)

        A northern Anishinaabe community loses power just as winter arrives, burying roads and creating panic as the food supply slowly runs out. Newcomers arrive on the reserve, escaping a nearby crisis, and tension builds as disease begins taking lives and chaos unfolds. A small group turns to the land and Anishinaabe tradition to start rebuilding and restoring harmony.

        Waubgeshig Rice is an Anishinaabe author, journalist and radio host originally from Wasauksing First Nation. He is also the author of Legacy and Midnight Sweatlodge. He used to be the host of CBC Radio's Up North.

        Lisa Bird Wilson in conversation with Shelagh Rogers about her novel, Probably Ruby.

        Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson

        Probably Ruby is a novel by Lisa Bird-Wilson. (Doubleday Canada, Julie Cortens)

        The novel Probably Ruby is about the life of Ruby, a young girl who grows up knowing very little about her Indigenous heritage. Her parents' separation sparks a chain reaction of events — and her life is beset by alcohol, drugs and bad relationships. Left with no support network, Ruby searches for her unknown roots in the most destructive of places. 

        Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw writer. Her book Just Pretending won four Saskatchewan Book Awards. She is also the author of the poetry collection The Red Files.

        Cherie Dimaline on her Canad Reads contender "The Marrow Thieves." (Originally aired Oct 2, 2017)

        The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

        Cherie Dimaline is the author of the YA novel The Marrow Thieves. (CBC)

        ​In the dystopian world of Cherie Dimaline's award-winning The Marrow Thieves, climate change has ravaged the Earth and a continent-wide hunt and slaughter of Indigenous people is underway. Wanted for their bone marrow, which contains the lost ability to dream, a group of Indigenous people seek refuge in the old lands. 

        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. The national bestselling book is currently being adapted for television. The sequel, Hunting by Starswas released in 2021.

        The Marrow Thieves was championed on Canada Reads 2018.

        Dimaline is a Métis author and editor. Her other books include Red RoomsThe Girl Who Grew a GalaxyA Gentle Habit and Empire of WildThe Marrow Thieves was named one of Time magazine's top 100 YA novels of all time

        Francesca Ekwuyasi on her Canada Reads 2021 book, Butter Honey Pig Bread

        Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

        Francesca Ekwuyasi is the author of Butter Honey Pig Bread. (Submitted by Francesca Ekwuyasi/CBC)

        Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she is a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

        Butter Honey Pig Bread was championed on Canada Reads 2021. It was also on the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for fiction.

        Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in the Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey PrizeButter Honey Pig Bread is her first book. She currently lives in Halifax.

        Shelagh Rogers talks to 2019 Giller Prize nominee, Megan Gail Coles, about Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

        Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

        Megan Gail Coles is the author of Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. (CBC)

        Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, Megan Gail Coles's debut novel, revolves around a cast of flawed characters who are implicated in each other's hopes, dreams and pains as they try to survive harsh economic times in Newfoundland & Labrador. 

        Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club was shortlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was championed on Canada Reads 2020.

        Coles is a playwright from St. John's. She is also the author of the short story collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome and the poetry collection SatchedColes is on the jury panel for the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize.

        Darrel McLeod talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new book Mamaskatch

        Mamaskatch by Darrel J. McLeod

        Mamaskatch is a memoir by Darrel J. McLeod. (Ilja Herb, Douglas & McIntyre)

        Darrel J. McLeod's Mamaskatch is a memoir of his upbringing in Smith, Alta., raised by his fierce Cree mother, Bertha. McLeod describes vivid memories of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, surrounded by siblings and cousins. From his mother, McLeod learned to be proud of his heritage and also shares her fractured stories from surviving the residential school system.

        Mamaskatch won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

        McLeod is a Cree writer from treaty eight territory in Northern Alberta. Mamaskatch is his first book. He is also the author of the follow-up memoir Peyakow.

        Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

        The book cover is divided into four unequally sized boxes, two boxes wide and two on top. The bottom right box is yellow with the image of six black silhouetted people running down a hill. They are running after one person who is silhouetted to the left in the red box. In the top right, it's a black-and-white image of footsteps in sand. The top left image is of coniferous trees in a line with snow on the ground. That image is coloured a slight blue.
        Indian Horse was defended by Carol Huynh on Canada Reads 2013. (Douglas & McIntyre)

        Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese tells the story of Saul Indian Horse, a young Ojibway boy who is ripped from his family and forcibly placed in residential school. Saul, a gifted hockey player, is both victim and witness to the dehumanizing abuse of students at the school. As an adult, Saul becomes dependent on alcohol to cope with the trauma of his childhood. 

        Indian Horse was championed on Canada Reads 2013.

        Wagamese was an award-winning and bestselling Ojibway writer from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in Ontario. His other works include the novels StarlightKeeper'n Me, Medicine WalkRagged Company, Him Standing and Dream Wheel, the poetry book Runaway Dreams and memoirs For JoshuaEmbers and One Native LifeHe died in 2017.

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