October 11, 2017 by TinyNavajo
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
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This was not my favorite book to read, if only for the fact that it felt like it cut so close to home in some ways.
Lewis Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of living on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975. There are things that he is used to, but he is not used to white people being nice to him in any way, shape, or form. This is what happens though when George Haddonfield moves to the Air Force Base near the reservation with his family. As Lewis and George connect through their mutual adoration and love of the Beatles music, Lewis realizes that the way his family lives is extremely different from the life of his new best friend. As George and Lewis continue to get to know one another, Lewis starts to lie to hide the poverty that his family experiences in order to do what he believes will keep his friendship with George. As the school year continues, Lewis discovers another thing that he is not used to; being the target of the wrath of another white student, Evan Reininger, who has a hatred for all those from the reservation.
George and Lewis learn more about themselves, their lives, and how their different backgrounds influence their interactions with one another. One boy comes from the Air Force after the war in Vietnam, one boy comes from the reservation; both wish to be friends with one another. When they realize that they have more in common than life taught them they would, they strive to overcome the obstacles and still become friends, though everyone at home and at school discourages them and tells them that they won’t be friends otherwise.
This struck my heart in a very close way. I am half Navajo, as you could probably tell from the title of this blog. My father grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Northeast Arizona. I had a language professor who also grew up on the reservation in college. My father went to school and didn’t learn English until 10th grade. My college professor was a part of the boarding school initiative to integrate Native Americans into European American culture. As I realize how close my family came to be a part of this idea, just a few generations away. My generation has lost some of our language, my family’s language is dying. But now generations are celebrating our Native heritage. We are told to be proud of who we are when just a few generations back we were told you cannot be who you are.
What books have you enjoyed, but not because it made you happy? Why did you enjoy it for the non-happy reason? Comment below and let me know!