The Game of Silence (Erdrich)

In her author’s note, Erdrich says that she was writing this at the same time as she was writing its prequel, The Birchbark House. It shows; this is definitely more of a continuation than a sequel – so much so I found it took me some time to get re-oriented to this world. The story meanders like the previous one did, and that’s not a criticism. It is, insofar as I can claim to understand it, the Ojibwe way of telling stories (and stories within stories). Time dictates story; not vice-versa. So I wonder about the young reader Erdrich is aiming for? Omakayas, her protagonist, is coming of age. She must accept her dreams. She has an annoying younger brother and an older sister who is in love. Her way of life is being threatened by the coming of the whites. There is an interesting undercurrent of gender issues here. What is the role of the Ojibwe woman? And of course, there’s the memorable Old Tallow and her dogs. This book is atmospheric, though not compelling.

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