Staff Book Reviews by Genre: Native American
Serafina's Stories shares the folklore of the southwest through the story telling template of Scheherazade's One Thousand and One Nights. Rudolfo Anaya focuses on the time of the Pueblo revolt against the Spanish Conquistadores. The captured Serafina weaves tales from both Pueblo and Spanish tradition that illuminate the similarites and differences of the peoples struggling to coexist in the same land.
When I heard about this book it had already won the National Book Award for Fiction. The description immediately intrigued me, and even after only a few pages I was engrossed. Louise Erdrich has rolled out a story so rich in emotion, character development, and place that it is almost impossible to stop thinking about the story after finishing it.
The story begins in 1988, with the attack of a woman living on a North Dakota reservation. The woman's reaction to what has happened to her, combined with the reactions of her husband Bazil and son Joe, bring the action to a deeply emotional place. Narrating the story is adult Joe, looking back at his 13 year old self with complete honesty and rawness. Expertly interwoven with details about Native American and Ojibwe culture and history, the reader feels deeply embedded in the lives of the characters as well as a profound sadness at what has come to pass on the original inhabitants of our great land.
This is not an easy book. There is lust, violence, rape, and sadness. Yet there is also strength, honor, and perseverance. And hope, most important of all.
Loved, loved, loved it!
Life on the Spokane Indian Reservation is tough for Junior. Not only is he small and easy to pick on, but he "was born with water on the brain" and has developed differently because of it. After Junior decides to transfer to a school off the reservation to try and find hope (which is completely unheard of), his life on the reservation becomes even harder. Illustrated with Junior’s witty cartoon sketches, this book is a quick read that makes you laugh in the midst of pain and brings to life the hardships of others.
The main character of this book is Arnold "Junior" Spririt. Junior lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation where getting a good education isn't as important as Junior thinks it should be. During his Freshman year of high school, Junior decides to to transfer from the rez school, Wellpinit, to Reardan, where the only other Indian is the school mascot! As you can imagine those first days and weeks are tough for Arnold at Reardan. But, eventually he does start to develop some important relationships. Junior's overcomes so many obstacles throughout this book and Alexie tells a wonderful story through compassion and humor.