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Title: The Birchbark House
Author: Louise Erdrich
Number of Pages: 256 pages
Book Number/Goal: 73/75 for 2009
My Rating: 4/5

This tells the story of a year in the life of Omakayas, an eight-year-old Anishinabe girl, and her family in the mid-1800s. It reminded me a lot of Little House on the Prairie and the other Laura Ingalls Wilder books in that it was basically just following Omakayas's life and spent a lot of time showing how they cooked, planted, harvested, made things, etc. All those little details of life back then. I do like that style of story, and this series is a nice antidote to the racist portrayal/erasure of Indians in the Little House books.

Title: The Game of Silence
Author: Louise Erdrich
Number of Pages: 288 pages
Book Number/Goal: 74/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

This sequel to The Birchbark House spans another year in the life of Omakayas, two years after the events of the first book. While the first book mainly focused on everyday life and events throughout the year, with little hints of coming changes due to the encroaching white population, The Game of Silence places that struggle front and center, as the Anishinabeg try to figure out why the white men have gone back on their word to let the Anishinabeg stay where they are. There is still plenty of daily life stuff going on, though, as life goes on for Omakayas despite the fear that she and her family might be forced to leave.

There were several new characters introduced, and more focus on some of the supporting characters (I love Two Strike Girl), but the focus remains on Omakayas. I think this book is actually a little longer than the first, but I found it a much faster read and enjoyed it a little more. Definitely no "middle book syndrome" here.

Title: The Porcupine Year
Author: Louise Erdrich
Number of Pages: 208 pages
Book Number/Goal: 75/75 for 2009
My Rating: 5/5

Two years after Omakayas and her family were forced to leave their island, they still haven't found a new permanent home. The Porcupine Year follows them through another year as they make their way north.

These books just keep getting better and better. I definitely liked this one best of all. It was a lot more of an adventure story than the first two.

Apparently there will be more books in the series, but considering the author's note says the next one will be about Omakayas's children, these three do make their own trilogy.

One thing I didn't like about these books is the way the author translates some names and not others. The protagonist is Omakayas, but her brother is Pinch. Her father is Mikwam, but her mother is Yellow Kettle. Sometimes the name is given alongside a translation, but often the translations are all we get. And then there's things like how one character was called Little Bee for the first two books, but then suddenly in The Porcupine Year, is called by her untranslated name, Amoosens. I don't like when books translate names, but I like the lack of consistency even more.

The other thing I didn't like was that what I originally thought was a casual positive portrayal of a gender-noncomforming child, ended up being "oh, she acts like a boy because she doesn't have a father who loves her". Ugh...


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