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Broken: A Love Storyby Lisa Jones
Synopses & Reviews
Writer Lisa Jones went to Wyoming for a four-day magazine assignment and came home four years later with a new life.
At a dusty corral on the Wind River Indian Reservation, she met Stanford Addison, a Northern Arapaho who seemed to transform everything around him. He gentled horses rather than breaking them by force. It was said that he could heal people of everything from cancer toÊbipolar disorder. He did all this from a wheelchair; he had been a quadriplegic for more than twenty years.
Intrigued, Lisa sat at Stanford's kitchen table and watched. She saw neighbors from the reservation and visitors from as far away as Holland bump up the dirt road to his battered modular home, seeking guidance and healing for what had broken in their lives. She followed him into the sweat lodge — a framework of willow limbs covered with quilts — where he used prayer and heat to shrink tumors and soothe agitated souls. Standing on his sun-blasted porch, pit bulls padding past her, she felt the vibration from thundering bands of Arabian horses that Stanford's young nephews brought to the ring to train.
And she listened to his story. Stanford spent his teenage years busting broncs, seducing girls, and dealing drugs. At twenty, he left the house for another night of partying. By morning, a violent accident had robbed him of his physical prowess and left in its place unwelcome spiritual powers — an exchange so shocking that Stanford spent several years trying to kill himself. But eventually he surrendered to his new life and mysterious gifts.
Over the years Lisa was a frequent visitor to Stanford's place, the reservation and its people worked on her, exposing and healing the places where she, too, was broken.
Broken entwines her story with Stanford's, exploring powerful spirits, material poverty, spiritual wealth, friendship, violence, confusion, death, and above all else,"a love that comes before and after and above and below romantic love."
"Freelance journalist Jones tells the story of Arapaho medicine man Stanford Addison, a quadriplegic and gifted horse trainer and his effect on animals: 'The horses would gather around, their liquid brown eyes fixed on him. He'd roll away across the dirt. They'd put their noses down and follow him until he stopped rolling.' Jones chronicles the Addison family's triumphs and losses on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, a place plagued by poverty and 'defined by struggle.' Along the way, Jones takes in lost souls, like 'the half-melted cowboy' Moses. At a crossroads in her life, Jones — much like those she cares for — is spiritually lost, but while in Wyoming, she stumbles upon her own journey of self-discovery. With an eye for detail, Jones brings each character to life; she describes Addison as '[t]his paralyzed, six-toothed, one-lunged Plains Indian [who] would take a drag of his KOOL Filter King, sigh, and say something like 'I guess the thing I miss most since the accident is ski jumping.'' At the book's core are the themes of healing, redefining family and home, and 'finding your center.' In the end, Jones reveals the beauty, ruin — and spirituality — of life on the 'rez.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Lisa Jones' memoir is framed by two vivid incidents, both involving horses. At the opening, she watches Stanford Addison, a quadriplegic Arapaho healer and horse whisperer who lives on Wyoming's Wind River Indian Reservation, teach clients the art of gentling. Later, Addison supervises a horribly botched gelding. Jones is far more focused on what the first event says about Addison than on the implications... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of the second. She becomes a frequent visitor to Addison's home and a believer in his mystical powers. Her spiritual search is at the center of the book, but it is not the most interesting part. Self-searching is a tricky topic, and it is also hard to see Addison in the same idealized light that Jones does. Fortunately, Jones has a keen journalist's eye, and she provides all kinds of details, such as the many small ways Addison's family cares for him. She also describes without judgment the dysfunction she encounters and the self-destructiveness of some of the reservation's young men. Jones writes beautifully about the natural world, knows how to bring the people she encounters alive on the page and tells a gutsy, moving story about a significant passage in her own life. But though her romanticizing of the world she encountered has its appeal, a clearer vision might have served even better. Reviewed by Juliet Wittman, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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About the Author
Lisa Jones lives in Colorado with her husband and two cats. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, High Country News, and National Public Radio. BROKEN is her first book.
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