Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: Dreaming in Indian

DREAMING IN INDIAN: CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN VOICES edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale is an outstanding anthology sure to engage youth in discussions about 21st century Native American culture. The beautifully illustrated text includes the perspectives of over 50 contemporary artists. The predominately young adult authors challenge traditional stereotypes and encourage youth to think about what it means to be an Native American in today’s society.

The individual pieces featured in the collection address authentic issues facing Native American youth. While some works explore problems such as residential schools that are unique to Indian culture, others contain universal themes such as bullying that will resonate with all young adults. Many of the works focus on issues of acceptance, prejudice, self-esteem, and tolerance through everyday experiences like sports, dance, and fashion.

The stunning layout and visual display will immediately attract the attention of teen readers. Photographs, sketches, paintings, comics, and collage are just a few of the many types of illustrations that so effectively convey the artists thoughts and insights of the artists. These illustrations are expertly woven into the engaging poetry and prose. Readers will be fascinated by the cultural references from food and family to music and medicine.

Along with their names, the tribal affiliation of each artist is identified. This information is particularly useful for students who wish to learn more about individuals with particular tribal affiliations. The book is divided into four sections focusing on the themes of roots, battles, medicines, and dreamcatchers. These areas would provide a rich starting point for group discussions.

This original work is a valuable resource for any library seeking to expand its cultural collection. Although aimed at young adults, there are aspects of this book that would appeal to both younger and older audiences too.

For many teens, reading THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie is their only exposure to Native American culture. Through this book, young people may gain a better appreciation of the diversity of interests and experiences of indigenous youth.

NetGalley ARC  used for review