Synopses & Reviews
My name is not easy. My name is hard like ocean ice grinding
at the shore . . . Luke knows his I upiaq name is full of sounds
white people can't say. So he leaves it behind when he and his
brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles away from
their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School, students Eskimo,
Indian, White line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there's
some kind of war going on. Here, speaking I upiaq or any native
language is forbidden. And Father Mullen, whose fury is like a
force of nature, is ready to slap down those who disobey.
Luke struggles to survive at Sacred Heart. But he's not the only
one. There's smart-aleck Amiq, a daring leader if he doesn't selfdestruct;
Chickie, blond and freckled, a different kind of outsider;
and small, quiet Junior, noticing everything and writing it all down.
They each have their own story to tell. But once their separate
stories come together, things at Sacred Heart School and the wider
"Edwardson (Blessing's Bead) crafts a multilayered story set in 1960s Alaska, told from the perspectives of children coming of age in a cultural contact zone. When 12-year-old Luke and his brothers are sent to a punitive Catholic boarding school, he knows that he will have to sacrifice his IÃ±upiaq name. But he isn't prepared to lose his youngest brother, Isaac, who is too young to enroll and is sent to live with a family in Texas. At Sacred Heart, Eskimos, Indians, and whites initially segregate themselves by ethnicity, but as they are touched by insidious outside forces, the racial boundaries fall away, and their voices become unified. Amiq, a defiant Eskimo, challenges authority, and a stubborn girl named Chickie longs to open closed doors, finding love with an Eskimo student; meanwhile, a quiet boy gathers the courage to write the truth. Edwardson distills a complex period in American history, examining the Cold War, the moon race, and the Kennedy era with cold, crisp illumination. Her beautifully styled prose offers strong descriptions of an isolated world and a mosaic of identities that must be sutured back together after being broken off at the root. Ages 12 up. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.