- Alisa Williams
Red Dove, Listen to the Wind by Sonia Antaki
I loved the idea of this book, but the execution fell flat unfortunately. There’s never enough food for Red Dove and her Lakota family. White missionaries show up and basically force Red Dove’s family to send her and her brother to a faraway white Christian school where they will supposedly be fed and cared for. At the school they face abuse while back home on the Great Plains, her family is starving and under threat from the military encamped nearby that continues to encroach on their land. Red Dove feels pressure from her family to unite white people and Lakota people. Her family tells her she is the only one who can do this because she is half white (her white father abandoned her mother when she was just a baby). This is an overarching theme throughout the book - Red Dove needing to come to terms with her “power” to unite both people groups, made possible both because of her heritage and because of a magical amulet that allows her to understand English, and to therefore understand what is happening, when she otherwise would not. This book is a stark and honest account of the way indigenous Americans were treated by the government: starved and murdered, forced Christianity and abuse of children, and more. While the subject matter is important, especially an #ownvoices perspective, the writing was very flat. There is a ton of dialogue and it is largely unrealistic conversations used to move the story along. There is not much description, of either settings or characters, which made it hard to get into the story, or feel connected to the characters at all. Overall, there was a lot of telling vs. showing, which made for a disconnected read.
This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.
Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com, tweets at @AWWritesStories, and bookstagrams at @AllyWritesStories.
Book cover image courtesy of One Elm Books.