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The Book Devourer

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The White - Deborah Larsen So I had checked this book out from the library a while ago, and returned it without ever getting to read it. Then my mom read it and really liked it. We usually read the same types of things, so I rechecked it out. Now, let me give a disclaimer -- although I am not racist or prejudice or anti-American Indian, etc., etc. I normally do not enjoy reading books about their history. It's always brutal, depressing and the books are all about who's to blame, who did what, yadda yadda yadda. Everyone in history has treated everyone else like crap, okay? I get that. I actually don't know why I pulled this book off the shelf, I think I remember thinking it would be something like a ghost story and then I just decided to try it.

That being said, I did not really like this book. It wasn't just that, like pretty much ALL Native American historical fiction, it was totally depressing (parents and siblings were scalped, main character was separated from her only surviving brother and never saw him again, was held as a captive and then traded two a pair of Seneca sisters to replace their brother who was killed by WHITE MEN, etc.,etc.) but the book was written terribly.

The main character in the story, Mary Jemison, AKA Two Falling Voices ACTUALLY existed and was interviewed about her life by a surgeon who then wrote a book about her. This book was used, along with other books pertaining to the history of that time and the author pieced it together, obviously creating much of the novel from her imagination. That, I don't have a problem with. But the way the author seemed to just have cut and pasted excerpts from Mary's actual storytelling with her own narrative was just terrible, terrible, terrible. This would have made a much more interesting short story, news article, something much less drawn out than an entire novel.

And although I found her particular life interestingly lived, I had a hard time buying the whole "I AM A PART OF THIS INDIAN TRIBE AND LOVE EVERYONE NOW AND WOULD NEVER GO BACK TO THE WORLD OF THE WHITE MAN" position that this book seems to repeatedly infer. If I were captured by someone at a young age and taken to a place where nobody else spoke my language and I couldn't learn to read or write and then was offered the chance MANY YEARS LATER after I had produced offspring and made the only life I had the chance to make, I probably wouldn't have the skills to re-enter my old society either. And this was in the late 1700s, early 1800s. I mean, how would she been treated by the white people had she returned? In that time, she would have faced judgment because of her children being part Indian and maybe even because she didn't die and chose to make some kind of life for herself, even if it wasn't ideal.

I know, I know, her two Indian husbands cared for her, treated her well enough and the Senecas weren't the ones who killed her family and took her as captive. So she did have it better off than remaining a captive of the tribe that actually took her. But its still sad, people were very cruel and vicious to each other back then, hey they still are, but at least we're not tomahawking each other to bits or scalping our enemies, right? A more "civilized" society, we abuse each other using more technological advances, hah hah hah (that's sarcastic laughter, by the way).

I think this book has turned me off of Native American ficiton for good, unless someone can change my mind.