Holiday Reading Suggestions 2021

Essays: We Are Meant to Rise, edited by Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura

Penned and compiled by Indigenous writers and writers of color living in Minneapolis, this collection of essays and poems unwinds how the city came to be the epicenter of global demands for justice. Many of the authors have participated in Carolyn Holbrook’s More Than a Single Story conversation series. An essay on financial trauma from Holbrook’s granddaughter, Tess Montgomery, first appeared in the March 2020 issue of MWP and became one of the most read stories at womenspress.com. Additional works include “All the Stars Aflame” by Shannon Gibney, “Long Live the Fatherless Children” by Anika Fajardo, and “Humility, Sincerity, Banana Oil” by Louise Erdrich. — LM

Novel: The Seed Keeper, by Diane Wilson

Rosalie Iron Wing spent most of her youth with a foster family in Mankato. She grows up to marry a white man and raises her children on his farm. Two decades later, after her husband’s death, she returns to her birth home in the woods and begins an exploration of her past, learning that she is descended from women with “souls of iron” who fought to protect their traditions.  A cache of seeds, kept by generations through wars and the trauma of boarding schools, reawakens Rosalie to her ancestors. Diane Wilson’s third novel holds several generations of Native women as it weaves history and fiction. — LM

Novel: Long Lost, by Jacqueline West

After being forced to move away from her friends, Fiona finds solace in her new town’s library. Inside the spooky converted mansion, she opens an old book that captivates her as it reveals secrets about the town and its inhabitants, including a centuries-old unsolved crime. This tale for young adults is a mystery novel within a mystery novel. — LM

Nonfiction: The Dark Side of Memory, by Tessa Bridal

The local author, born in Uruguay, details conversations with families who lost family members, including young children, and illuminates how matriarchs are pursuing answers. She notes parallels with U.S. border policy — allowing parents and children to be separated and detaining people without legal representation. — MM

Nonfiction: Opioid Reckoning, by Amy C. Sullivan

Minnesota is known as the birthplace of addiction rehabilitation and recovery. The author shares what she has learned from people who have experienced addiction and recovery, as well as activists and medical professionals. She explores the complexity of opioid addiction, which has claimed more than 450,000 U.S. lives since the late 1990s. — MM

Nonfiction: Fix What You Can, by Mindy Greiling

In vulnerable detail, former Minnesota legislator Mindy Greiling describes what life has been like with a son diagnosed with schizophrenia, her work as a mental health reform activist, and being a mother living with both her son’s relapses and hope.

“The criminal justice system has become our de facto mental health system,” Greiling writes. “As a former politician, I can attest that it is far easier to increase judiciary budgets than those for health and human services. […] We desperately need increased and stable funding to build a continuum of care so that people with mental illness can gain access to what they need, when they need it. I am proud to have helped make Minnesota’s one of the best mental health systems in the country, but the bar is still very low.

“We are no different from the rest of the country in being desperately short of mental health professionals and workers, especially those of color. We need more crisis care in hospitals, more community care and support, less discrimination, and more opportunities in housing and employment.” — MM