Originally released in 2015, “Girl Unreserved” is currently being re-vamped to be released as an illustrated version in 2021.
“Girl Unreserved” is an intimate coming-of-age narrative told from the perspective of an Anishinaabe girl from a reservation in Northern Minnesota who is separated from her culture after her parents divorce.
The story addresses how the concepts of identity, gender, and sexuality are shaped by both our cultural environments as well as the intrinsic, spiritual landscape we grow and carry inside of ourselves throughout our lives.
Other themes this book addresses are: the prevalence of sexual assault in Indian Country; poverty and malnutrition and their effects on the mental states of children; alcoholism; and one of the worst coping mechanisms for suffering, the “I Don’t Care” mentality, which allows subscribers the belief that they are in control of their own suffering–leading to cycles that recreate the suffering over and over again.
Girl Unreserved is loosely based on a true coming-of-age story and has woven into it elements of fiction.
Reviews of “Girl Unreserved”
“This is a very, very interesting book that combines fiction and biographical narrative. The beginning is stunningly written; as the story unfolds the writing changes back and forth (and back) from lyrical to matter-of-fact to lyrical, and so on. This works well. The main character, Winnow Sticks, is truly engaging; her story is often heartbreaking yet she seems ever-hopeful. I was on her side and cheering for her (“You can do this!”). The story can be difficult to read because of the frankness of the narrative. It does end on a note of empowerment (and I found myself holding my breath as I read the last few pages, hoping she would be all right) and,really, optimism about a yet unseen future.”
–LindaLeGarde Grover is an associate professor of American Indian Studies at UMD and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, author of The Dance Boots, The Road Back to Sweetgrass, Onigamiising, and The Sky Watched: Poems of Ojibwe Lives.
“Girl Unreserved… put me immediately on a roller coaster ride of a fierce understanding that broke my heart again and again… Sometimes as the (main)character reflects we are gifted with poetry and short stories like one that starts: “Blue Bird was singing one morning welcoming the sun with much excitement…” which are exquisite and push us to read this story with our hearts. There are moments we embrace in celebration of healing for a moment we can laugh and grow with the character Winnow…
Thank-you Tashia Hart for your story and allowing Moccasin Tracks to read and review. We look forward to talking with you on community radio!”
—Moccasin TracksWRUV 90.1 FM Burlington, VT
“Love this one, I’m normally a pretty tough grader of books very few of my 200 plus read books do I give five stars too, this one earn 5 stars for imaginative truth telling, clear spiritual connection, it was like the very best emotional intellectual 12 step share I’ve ever heard! It’s as if this small child walks up and starts speaking and three hours later you realize you have been listening spellbound the entire time. This was really good, Ms. Hart is a heck of a good writer and she captured a growing up in poverty and abuse but she did it in a way that transcends the experience and I don’t believe I have ever described a writer doing that before. I finished reading the book and I immediately started to read it again to my daughter. (I don’t recall ever doing that either) Great book place on your must read shelf.”
–Herman Padilla, Amazon.com 5 star review
“‘The thing about water is that it wants to find more of itself, like it recognizes the goodness in being an ever bigger whole, and I find my own movement drawn onward by this same gathering.’
“Loved the insight of Winnow, the main character. Her sharing of the blue bird story within Winnow’s journey at the aunts boyfriends trampoline was very touching. This story is uniquely and reflectively told, and it makes sense that the author wrote this to aid her own healing. Though mature in content, this story is appropriate for a Native American youth audience, because it can help them make sense of their experiences.”
–Ozaawaa Kwe, Goodreads 5 star review