Author: Betty Louise Bell
Tribe of author and/or tribe featured in book: Cherokee
Favorite quote: “She wanted us to member too, and I guess that’s what I’m a-doing with you. History ain’t nothing more’n membering. A man can’t know who he is all by hisself. A woman neither. Both need something to member.” Pg 141
Summary: Lucie grew up hearing the stories of her ancestors. She heard stories from her mom and other relatives. However, once she was grown she moved to California, away from her family and the stories they told, though she never totally forgot the stories. Then she finds out that her mother is seriously ill and she returns to Oklahoma. At her childhood home she remembers her childhood and the time she spent with her Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Jerry after Lucie and her mom’s boyfriend had a run-in. Most of the novel takes place during her stay with her aunt—who has TB—and her uncle, where she found more freedom on their farm than she had living with her mom. Throughout the whole novel there is a reoccurring theme: identity. Her family was always reminding her of who she was and where she came from.
Analysis: It took me a little bit to get into the book, mostly because this book was different than the previous two books I read—Ancient Child, based on a Kiowa tale, and Geronimo, an autobiography. This book didn’t have near the “action” that the other two books had; it primarily focused on memory, where flashbacks and snippets of past dialogue were on every turn of the page. However, I grew fond of the book and it even reminded me some of my life. Like Lucie, I grew up hearing stories of my family. My family always reminded me of where I came from; they wanted me to be proud of who I am and my ancestors.
In most books about Native Americans, people have a tendency to make them mystical people. The people in this book weren’t like that. Lucie and her family were normal Oklahomans. In fact some could go as far as to say they were normal, Oklahoman hicks judging by their dialogue. I enjoyed the dialogue and felt that it was realistic and had the Oklahoman accent pegged. Of course Bell, the author, is from Oklahoma.
Perhaps the only fault I found with the book is that most of the book was a flashback. I admit that I got caught up in the flashback, and actually enjoyed it more than the present story. It was just jarring when the story switched back to first-person and it was the present. Though I can’t think of a solution while I type, I do feel that there should be a better way to blend past and present together without having that jarring effect.