Reviewed by Debbie Reese
As I turned the pages of Forever Cousins, I thought back to the early 1990s when we left Nambé’s reservation to go to graduate school in Illinois. Our daughter was three years old. She and her cousins were in tears. The always-present playing options were about to change.
When you start reading Forever Cousins, you’ll meet Amanda and Kara and to a lesser degree, Forrest. You’ll learn a lot about them. The two girls are together all the time. Sometimes they’re doing things most kids in the U.S. do — like make jelly sandwiches — and sometimes they’re doing something Native kids do, like dancing at a powwow. On the cover you see both girls have dolls. Those are quite special! They were made for them by their magúu (the author’s note tells us that magúu is a Hidatsa word that means grandmother).
We learn that they live in a city and that Kara and her family are moving from the city to the Rez. They’ll see each other in a year. A year! In subsequent pages we see the two, both feeling alone while doing the same activity. Amanda is at a powwow in the city (we see tall buildings in the background), holding her doll close as she sits on a folding chair. Kara is at a powwow on the Rez (we see low hills in the background). Her mom offers her some fry bread but she just hugs her doll and shakes her head. Continue reading on American Indians in Children’s Literature.
Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing on October 4, 2022
Genres: American Indians First Nations Metis Inuit
Reading Level: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Review Source: American Indians in Children's Literature
Publisher's Synopsis: In this Native American story, Kara and Amanda are best-friend cousins. Then Kara leaves the city to move back to the Rez. Will their friendship stay the same?
Kara and Amanda hate not being together. Then it's time for the family reunion on the Rez. Each girl worries that the other hasn't missed her. But once they reconnect, they realize that they are still forever cousins. This story highlights the ongoing impact of the 1950s Indian Relocation Act on Native families, even today.
This tender story about navigating change reminds readers that the power of friendship and family can bridge any distance.