Christine Hartman Derr

Writing for Children & Young Adults


In Kate’s Way Home—Christine Hartman Derr’s Center supported work—a contemporary Cherokee girl finds a connection between her present and her people’s past. This middle grade novel-in-verse follows twelve-year-old Kate as she moves off her reservation for the first time to a suburb in Indiana, where she is far away from her extended family and her familiar tribal connections. As she’s feeling lost and adrift, her faithful canine companion discovers a buried secret: a gravemarker, hidden below the soil of a construction site. The only markings on the gravestone are a first name, a tribal affiliation, and a date. Kate must fight against the clock to solve the mystery of how this Native girl got here, why she’s there, and why a house was about to be built on top of a burial site. Along the way, Kate uncovers the connection between her new town and her Indigenous identity: her new town was once the home to an Indian residential school, one of the many attempts at forced assimilation pushed on Indigenous communities.

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