Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grief Isolates: Rain Is Not My Indian Name

The title of Rain Is Not My Indian Name made me anticipate a book about fitting in as a Native American in a mainly white school, but in fact that is a minor thread in Cynthia Leitich Smith's book about a girl recovering from the death of her best friend. Rain is just emerging from her deep grief to notice the world around her -- her aunt running an "Indian Camp" that she decides to photograph rather than participate in, her brother and his girlfriend dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, her father's overseas deployment keeping him distant, the friends she backed away from after the death of Galen, the best friend who might have become a boyfriend if he had looked both ways before crossing the street last New Year's Eve.

Rain is an interesting young woman, slowly waking up from months of isolation, linking back to before the tragedy, looking slowly forward to the rest of the summer. The book wasn't what I thought it would be, but it stood up on its own. I'll be looking for other work by this author. B.

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