Tilly and the Crazy Eights is Better than your Average Road Trip

Imagine being voluntold into driving a bus of 8 spunky elders across a continent. That’s the position that Tilly finds herself in at the beginning of the book, when Indigenous elders at a sewing circle (which they call their “Stitch ‘n Bitch”) craft up the idea. I saw it one day on the shelf after one of my Entrepreneur in Residence sessions, and picked it up because it sounded fun but also poignant. It was both of those things and more.

Tilly and the crazy eights

Starting in British Columbia, their final destination was the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in New Mexico, the largest pow wow in the world with over 20,000 participants. This was my second reason for picking it up, because I was lucky enough to attend that pow wow when I was just a teenager living in New Mexico.

But it’s not just the pow wow, and it’s not just the road trip. The elders each chose a bucket list item along the way, whether it was making a stop in the Redwood Forests, or Las Vegas!

If you’re new to Turtle Island (North America), the book weaves in some of the history and  present realities of Indigenous peoples that everyone who is living here should know more about. If you’re Indigenous yourself, you’ll find not just the broader themes, but some of the tiny details will make your smile with recognition.

It also does a great job of dispelling the myths that stories and journeys worth sharing are a young peoples’ game. No matter your age, you will delight in and relate to the inner and outer workings of some or all of the elders on this road trip. They are smart, funny, complex, flawed, kind and fun, and the book takes you into each of their perspectives at different points.

It’s a relatively small book as well so you can read it fairly quickly. I recommend this to any adult living on Turtle Island. Take it out from the library, or purchase some as presents this holiday season to support the author Monique Gray Smith, who is of Cree, Lakota and Scottish ancestry, and lives on traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ people near Victoria, BC.


Tilly and the Crazy Eights is available at the library in paper copy and ebook format.

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