Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell

Written in something the book calls "prose poetry" (which I think means it isn't really either one), this book tells the story of two Native American sisters who are taken away from their home and sent to a boarding school far away from their Mohawk reservation after their mother dies. The school is run by a cold, vicious woman, and the sisters suffer terribly. The children at the school are forced to work as slave labor, and are taught only what they will need for their future lives as domestic servants. The book is historically accurate, set around the turn of the century at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. The story is told in the alternating voices of the two sisters, but they are so similar that I had trouble keeping up with which sister was which. Although one sister fares better than the other, neither is happy. I would have liked the book better if it were written in regular prose - I think it needs more fleshing out with descriptions of the setting and characters - but it still is worth reading. Review by Stacy Church

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