Posted in book reviews, books, children, reading

Tiny Navajo Reads: Apple in the Middle

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley

◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆

*Published August 2, 2018*

This was surprisingly good. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but it was one that called out to me just based on the description, so I thought I would give it a try.

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley

Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a racial slur. Not that she really even knew HOW to be an Indian in the first place. Too bad the white world doesn’t accept her either. So began her quirky habits to gain acceptance. Apple’s name, chosen by her Indian mother on her deathbed, has a double meaning: treasured apple of my eye, but also the negative connotation: a person who is red, or Indian, on the outside, but white on the inside. After her wealthy [white] father gives her the boot one summer, Apple reluctantly agrees to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota for the first time, which should be easy, but it’s not. Apple shatters Indian stereotypes and learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color.

I do kind of wish I had this book when I was younger. I am Native American, but I was raised white. Through no fault of my parents, I didn’t really know a whole lot about my culture growing up, just what I could see around our house and going to visit my cheii and nalí on the reservation growing up. I actually grew to know my culture more in college when I started taking Navajo language classes. But knowing that there were other kids out there like me, even if they were different tribes, I wouldn’t have felt as stuck, maybe. I honestly can’t tell you for certain, as I can’t play the “what if” game.

This book is about family and knowing when to reach out to your family. It’s about knowing that your family is always there for you, even if you’ve never met them before. Stories about family and reconnecting with your family, especially for young girls are some of my favourites. And this book is definitely out there for those who are like Apple, and who may be like me, just a little bit stuck in both worlds and yet not at all.

Posted in arcs, book reviews, books, goodreads, reading

Tiny Navajo Reads ARCs: The Deep

The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊

*To be published November 5, 2019*

I received an ARC from BookishFirst. This in no way affects my thoughts on the book or the following review.

the deepI first saw this book first start to circulate on Tumblr, and the idea of mermaids born from slave women thrown from slaver ships and memories and how this all effects a culture that forces itself to forget.

Octavia E. Butler meets Marvel’s Black Panther in The Deep, a story rich with Afrofuturism, folklore, and the power of memory, inspired by the Hugo Award–nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group Clipping.

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

The Deep is “a tour de force reorientation of the storytelling gaze…a superb, multilayered work,” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and a vividly original and uniquely affecting story inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping.

This was such an interesting book and I loved it all! I loved how a culture was created from a time in history where cultures were destroyed by those who stole many away from their homes. Yetu is the Historian, the one who was called upon to Remember the memories of her people, to help them retain their culture, and who they are. But this only happens once a year, for the rest of it, Yetu is required to hold all the Rememberings and it’s eating away at her mind.

But at this most recent Remembering, Yetu flees and leaves her people to be trapped in the memories of their ancestors. She is flung far and wide and becomes trapped in a small pool of water where she finds out more about her people, her life, and what it means to remember; not only for herself, but for her people as well.

This was an awesome book and one that I was really excited to be read as soon as it came out. I also like how it’s a story that is told through the several lenses, not just the from the story, but the music that inspired it and the thought of a race of people born of slave women thrown overboard.

Do you like learning about how a book came to be? Does it make you like the book more or less? Comment below and let me know!

Posted in book reviews, books, goodreads, reading

Tiny Navajo Reads: The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

the book of speculationThis was such an interesting book…I didn’t expect it to be so interesting. It deals with old-time circuses, an old-time family curse, mermaids and the ability to hold one’s breath. It also deals with books, libraries, and those who love old books.


 

“I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family….”

Simon Watson is a librarian in a small town who lives in a crumbling dying house. His mother, a circus mermaid who made her living by holding her breath for minutes at a time. She also lost her life in the nearby water. Simon’s little sister then ran away to the circus six years ago. One summer, Simon receives a book in the mail from an old bookseller, stating that due to water damage he is unable to sell it but he found a name in it that lead him to Simon. As Simon looks through the book, he sees generations of his family recorded in it, generations of drowning mermaids.

Simon’s little sister comes back to visit, he realizes that July 24th is the day the mermaids drown. With his little sister back, Simon tries to figure out what is wrong before his little sister is claimed by the curse, wanting to keep his family safe. Will he be able to break the curse? Or will his sister drown?

This was such an interesting book. It was recommended for me because of my interest in The Night Circus, and I’ll say this, it was an excellent recommendation. Old style circuses, family histories, what appears to be an old curse acting out, this is a book that I didn’t truly expect to enjoy.

What book did you read that you didn’t expect to enjoy? Comment below and let me know!

Posted in book challenge, book reviews, books, ebook, goodreads, reading

Tiny Navajo Reads: Half a Lifelong Romance

Half a Lifelong Romance by Eileen Chang

 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

half a lifelong romanceFrom one of 20-century China’s greatest writers is an unforgettable love story that spans half a lifetime. This has been one of the more interesting reads of this year, I had no idea what I really expected, but it was not this. I enjoyed it, it gave me a feeling of actual life in a way.

Our two main characters, Gu Manzhen and Shen Shijun, meet as coworkers in a Shanghai factory in the 1930s. Despite their differences in background, they fall love and start to tentatively plan their future together. But through the two years that they date/court, life starts to spring up. Manzhen knows that she still needs to be able to work, in order to provide for her family, her aging mother, and grandmother, along with all of her younger siblings. Shijun wants to help Manzhen support her family, which is usually done through marriage, but Manzhen won’t let him, saying that he needs to focus on his career before he has to support her family.

When Shijun gets news that his father’s health is starting to fail him, Shijun quits his job at the factory to take over the family business. As he starts to figure out his life in the country, Shijun and Mazhen’s relationship starts to strain and they start to think that maybe they don’t really know what they want. As their relationship breaks, and they start to go their separate ways in life, they both realize that they still love each other, in the little ways they perk up with a name is mentioned, when they walk through a familiar section of Shanghai, all the little things that trigger your memory of a past lover.

Manzhen and Shijun find that they have suddenly shot forward in life after they separated from each other, and they see that their lives have become very different from the one they vaguely envisioned with each other. They are able to see each other one last time, almost by accident, in Shijun’s hometown, where they are able to finally say goodbye to each other, and to the life they might have had.

This was a heart-wrenching story in a way that makes it real. With the title of this book, I expected to read a story about two characters who had a whirlwind romance, separated by war, to be brought back together to enjoy the rest of their lives together. Not at all what I got, but I still felt the realness of this love story. I still felt the love the two main characters had, not only for each other but for their families as well, which influenced their stories more than they thought their families would originally. I just loved the writing and the story that unfolded through half a lifetime of living that the two had.

What book has given you a different story than what the title told you it would be? Comment below and let me know!

Posted in book reviews, books, goodreads, reading, school

Tiny Navajo Reads: If I Ever Get Out of Here

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

♦ ♦ ♦

if i ever get out of hereThis 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!