I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Calling For a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Calling For a Blanket Dance, we follow the life of Ever Geimausaddle through the various perspectives of his family members, both younger and older than him. We see the struggles he and they go through in their life in Oklahoma and Mexico, the ways they connect to their ancestors and their past, the way life has many ups and downs, and how Ever finds strength through it all.
I only read the occasional work of literary fiction, but I’m glad I read this one!
The way this story was told is really interesting and so well done. It took me a while to get the hang of who was who in this family tree, but the chart at the front of the book was really helpful. And the narrative itself does a good job of establishing how everyone is related, and how they are connected to Ever. And that’s the strength of this—seeing how Ever’s life progresses, and how he changes and grows through the years. The multiple perspectives on his life show how multifaceted he is, and how complex everyone’s life is.
The plot is honestly hard to describe because it’s so character driven, and there are some difficult topics dealt with in this story. There is domestic abuse, alcohol and drug use, depression and self-harm, so if these are topics you prefer not to engage with, now you know. None of it is gratuitous, though, and ultimately this story does have hope.
I especially liked Ever’s bond with Leander, and seeing how troubled lives don’t have to remain so. The themes about breaking the cycle of violence are strong and touching. And in the end, this novel is great! The exploration of life for Native Americans in the recent decades is detailed and realistic, not shying away from the tougher aspects but also not ignoring the wonderful culture they have, even in a country not usually accepting of them. It’s kind of a hard book to describe, but that’s far from a bad thing. It’s serious and contemplative and not easy and insightful.
Calling For a Blanket Dance will be published on July 26th, 2022!
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