The girl on the cover has a necklace with a Star of David and she also has one that represents her Muscogee Nation heritage. And inside the Emily Bowen Cohen graphic novel, the struggle of a young girl unfolds as she learns what it means to be a “Real Native” and a “Real Jewish” Girl. In the story Two Tribes (inspired by the life of Cohen), we follow Mia and see how her two tribes/cultures have similarities, even in their differences. This is a coming of age story; of coming into your own at a vulnerable time in our lives, the early teen years.
While Mia’s details are different, the relatableness of her situation is universal. This “when am I an adult” and “who am I?” are ideas everyone must face. We all have bullies, friendships, and family dynamics. Granted, we all did not run away from our family in California to visit our father in Oklahoma. Or have to deal with a Rabbi set in his own ways, or the stress of a bat mitzvah, but we know Mia and have felt a lot of what she has felt. We see everything from microaggressions, to out and out racism, and even the self-hatred we can internalize, not to mention some of the arrogance we have due to the experience we faced and forget others went through, too.
I was not crazy about all of the characters of the story. Sometimes things felt a bit stereotypical, and Mia was not always a likable person. Or at least for me. However, I do think the aged 10 and up will really enjoy it. The illustrations are pleasant, not overly action-paced, but they have good details, are colorful, and paint the images we are watching unfold in front of us. They are nice. I read via an online reader copy and the final product is due mid-August 2023.