Friday, March 8, 2013

The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow

Today, I read the most heart-breakingly beautiful book, and I wanted to share it with you. The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow by Ann Warren Turner is a fictional diary of a young Navajo girl recounting the story of her family's ordeal during the Navajo Imprisonment at Fort Sumner in 1864.  I can't remember the last time I read a book that was so well written, so compelling, and so heart-wrenching that I literally could not put it down.  This was that kind of book.

It is told from the perspective of a 13-year-old Navajo girl named Sarah Nita, and gives us a glimpse into the world of the Navajo people and what they endured during the time of the Long Walk from their homeland in Arizona to the place of their imprisonment in New Mexico.  It is written in the poetic style of Native American storytelling, and is just so beautiful to read.  The first couple of paragraphs had me entranced...

"Grandmother Weaves Her Story

I am home now from the white man's school, sitting beside Grandmother in the shade near our hogan. Slowly, skillfully, she spins wool, winding the long thread on a stick by her leg.  Her legs are so thin, they worry me.  For Shimasani is old; soon her bones will be buried in the land of our ancestors.
  "My granddaughter, this summer I want to tell you all that happened during the Long Walk so you can write it down in the book that white teacher gave to you.  You know some things, but not all.  How the soldiers burned our crops and drove away our animals, making us starve.  When they came looking for us, we had no choice but to go with them.
  "To Fort Sumner," I add.  Her eyes are half-closed, remembering...."

Sarah Nita is a gifted story teller who weaves magical stories that allow her family, if only for a little while, to transcend their suffering and reconnect to their history, their rich culture, and their home land they love so much.  This is how she chases away the sorrow.  And though, it may sound like a sad story, it is actually immensely uplifting and encouraging and hopeful.  At its heart, it is a tale of enduring love and courage and strength in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

So, if you're looking for a beautifully written story that will transport you to another world for a little while - one that will touch your heart and leave you with an immense feeling of gratitude for the earth and the ones you love, I highly recommend it.  Please let me know if you read it, and if so, what your thoughts are concerning it.  I want everyone to read it!  So they know - so they don't forget.  It's so important that we remember.


Valerianna said...

Wow, sounds amazing.... its on my list for soon!

margaret said...

sounds like a good read Starr, will check it out at the library next time I go.

Jules said...

Thank you Starr, it sounds like a wonderful book - I'll put it on my reading list too.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

The picture is the perfect cover for such a story. You are lucky to have found the book. I feel the story will be well remembered.
xx, Carol

bohemiannie! art said...

Thanks Starr. I'm always open to a new book. I'll look for it when I get back to the States.

Jeri Landers said...

History is one of my favorite things in the world.Having grown up in the WEST, I was very enamored with the story of the Indians, which is very sad in many ways. Unfortunately, world history is full of such stories,and you are correct that we should never forget the past. The little girl looks so sad and sullen, it is a touching book cover.