The ten stories that make up this collection are raw, original, and fresh. Although they are all about American Indians, they are as different from one another as they are from anything you've read before.
A supermarket checkout line, a rowboat on a freezing lake at dawn, a drunken dance in the gym, an ice hockey game on public-access TV. These are some of the backgrounds against which ten outstanding authors have created their memorable characters. Their work both poignant and funny, sarcastic and serious reminds us that the American Indian story is far from over it's being written every day.
A note by Carlson, editor of Cool Salsa (Henry Holt, 1995/VOYA February 1995), and an introduction by Helen Maynor Scheirbeck, author of several books on American Indian education, begin this collection of ten stories about contemporary Native American experiences. Scheirbeck writes of a renaissance-an ever-increasing access to American Indian film, visual arts, dance, and literature such as these stories by notable writers like Sherman Alexie, Joseph Bruchac, and Louise Erdrich. Themes of coming-of-age, finding oneself, and making sense of familial relationships are essential to most of the selections. Particularly thought-provoking tales that reminded this reader of how history, experience, and tradition interlock with the present include Joseph Bruchac's Ice, Greg Sarris's The Magic Pony, and Lee Francis's Summer Wind. Many stories include language that reads more like poetry than prose as in Alexie's story about a young man holding on to memories of a father he so desperately needs. Other lighthearted and heavily ironic stories include Cynthia Leitich Smith's A Real-Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate and Richard Van Camp's The Last Snow of the Virgin Mary. The length of the stories makes them great for sustained silent reading opportunities. Fans of the aforementioned authors as well as Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, and Susan Power will enjoy this collection. A short biography that includes select titles by each author and his or her tribal affiliation concludes the book, although information about the writing of the stories would have been a bonus. This collection is highly recommended, but mature language and situations might make it more appropriate for high schools.VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, HarperCollins, 176p., and PLB Ages 15 to 18.