The Porcupine Year
by Louise Erdrich
HarperCollins | 182 pp | $12.47
Monica Whitepigeon in Entertainment. Discussion »
The physical home is a place often taken for granted. It can easily become distorted and foreign. It can be taken away and abandoned. The idea of home, however, is much harder to misplace. In 1852, an Ojibwe family was uprooted by the United States government and forced to relocate.
"The Porcupine Year" is the third installment of Omakayas, or Little Frog, series by award winning author Louise Erdrich. The first book in the series was "The Birchbark House," published by Hyperion in 1999. The second book was "The Game of Silence," HarperCollins in 2005. The story focuses on one specific year of the preteen girl and her family as they make their way north to find a new home.
The story begins with Omakayas, now twelve, and her brother Pinch out hunting and quickly turns to an adventure that leads them to encounter a very special porcupine. After a mishap of trying to capture the creature, the brother Pinch, later to be known as Quill, becomes attached to the porcupine and takes him as his helping spirit.
The book is as much about family as it is about growing up. Together the family endures loss, change, near starvation but they are continually bound and strengthened by love. In spite of all the pitfalls that come Omakayas way, she never forgets her roots and her faith in the healing powers of the natural spirits.
Erdrich's cohesive storytelling clearly shows a fictional past but a very believable untold story of Ojibwe natives. Full of Ojibwe words and phrases, the story demonstrates the fundamental values of the Ojibwe. It is a fun and enjoyable read that will leave the reader rooting for this family and Omakayas.
"The Porcupine Year" demonstrates once again Erdrich is a masterful storyteller in the truest tradition to her Ojibwe heritage.
posted April 14, 2012 6:40 am edt
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