So, this book review blog post is not part of my attempt to catch up on all the book I’ve read this year but haven’t taken the time to write about here. This is a book I finished this morning. It is fresh in my mind.
Laughing Boy is a love story, written about a young Navajo couple in the very early 1910′s. The beauty of the story is how it shows the growth of their love for one another and acceptance of one another as time passes in the short year and a half that they are married in the book. Learning to be honest with one another, to trust one another – this is real love.
I know a small amount of Navajo culture, this book made me want to discover more. The concept of learning to live “in beauty” is something I believe would help me transcend the occupation with day to day trivial things that sometimes consume to much of my energy. I need to find a way to focus more on that which really matters.
Having grown up in the west, I attended schools with some Navajo children who were brought up from the reservation to live with families in my area. This was done under the direction of the LDS church. Of course as a naive fourth grader I bought into the idea that we were “helping” these children. It was not until about 15 years ago that it began to occur to me what an awful thing much of this was, and how it harmed this beautiful culture and people. Reading about how the young woman in the story, Slim Girl, was viewed because of her American schooling brought this home even more deeply. Even though she was taken to a school and lived there for 5 years, verses the children I knew that just came up to live with a family for the school year I don’t see much of a difference. Being told that your culture and people are inferior would be devastating. And it is those emotions that are driving Slim Girl’s actions and ultimately lead to her death. I didn’t much care for her while reading most of the book, I didn’t trust her actions. It wasn’t until her full story is revealed that I, like Laughing Boy, began to understand her.
This is another book that I feel has altered me, made me a better person just for having read it. Simply beautiful.