One Thousand White Women

I’ve been spending as much time as possible reading instead of a lot of other things like blogging. I feel like I really hit the jackpot on my last library trip, so I haven’t been getting much sleep. Between the books and the croup-y baby, sleep has been sparse for me. In fact, I stayed up until 1:30 am finishing this book last night only to lay there thinking about it at least 30 minutes after I completed it.

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus was absolutely worth the dazed, tired feeling each and every morning that followed.

This piece of historical fiction is inspired by an even in 1874 in which the great Cheyenne “Sweet Medicine Chief” Little Wolf went to Washington D.C. to meet with President Grant in the hopes of making a lasting peace for his people.

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To secure the peace, Sweet Medicine Chief Little Wolf asked President Grant for a gift of 1,000 white women to become wives of the Cheyenne and to show his people the ways of the white man. The children born would then be a sort of bridge between the two cultures ensuring peace well into the future. In exchange, the Cheyenne would provide 1,000 horses to President Grant.

Since the Cheyenne are a matrilineal society (tracing ancestry through mothers, not fathers), the children would “belong” to the white man’s tribe; thus, the Sweet Medicine Chief offered the highest of honors known to his tribe. In reality of course, an appalled President Grant refused the offer.

One Thousand White Women, however, imagines that President Grant secretly agreed to the offer in an effort to move the Indians onto reservations more quickly.

The voice for most of the book is May Dodd, a scandalously sexually liberated woman who fell in love below her station. She has two children with her lover before her family has her committed to an insane asylum for her trespasses. It is there that she is recruited for, and agrees to participate in, President Grant’s secret “Brides for Indians” program. After two years, all the women will be free to leave the program and will receive an unconditional pardon from the jail, asylum or prison they were recruited from. May knows it is the only way to see see her children again.

The story is told through the journals May keeps upon leaving the asylum, her journey west and her experience becoming a squaw.

We learn about May and the other “Brides for Indians” who head West.

We learn about the West.

We learn about the Cheyenne people, beliefs and practices.

We learn about the United States’ Indian policies during this time period which lead to the killing of thousands of Native Americans, including May Dodd.

I found this book on International Women’s Day sitting on the shelf in the Good Reads section of my library.

I was intrigued. I was swept away. I have added it to my Good Reads section.

This is not a political book hell bent to revisit policies from this time. It is an attempt to tell the complicated story of a clash of cultures that resulted in the destruction of a land and a people. It is about friendship and women. It is triumphant and lovely and engaging and sad. It is, without a doubt, a book that celebrates women and relationships across cultures.

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Clocks, Automata & Paris

It occurred to me last night that one of the best books I’ve read in several years wasn’t up on my Good Reads page. This situation was remedied immediately.

Do you love clocks?

Do you love automata? (Do you know what automata are? I didn’t before I read this book.)

Do you love 1930’s Paris?

Do you want to fall in love with a boy named Hugo?

It doesn’t matter what you answered because you HAVE to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick as soon as possible! Check it out from the library or buy it immediately!

Jack brought it home from the school library this past fall. He and his friend had a contest who could make it through the 526 pages first.

Here is a crucial piece of information: my son does NOT read anything that is 526 pages long.

But, he willingly devoured Hugo. Because it was. that. AWESOME.

Seriously.

When he devoured it, I knew I had to read it too.

Then, I willingly devoured it.

It is a lovely story told by words and pictures, but that just doesn’t do it justice.

This book took my breath away. Twice. Seriously.

It won the 2008 Caldecott Medal.

The pictures MOVE the story forward in a beautifully ingenious way.

It involves real people. (I LOVE historical fiction.)

It engaged the real people in the house in a way that hasn’t happened since Troy and I read Harry Potter. (Jack made me read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and they engaged us, but not in the same way.)

Jack and I would check in with one another in the morning to talk about my favorite parts from the night before.

We both noted the unusual drawings. Little did I know what awaited me.

I noticed it was, or is being, made into a movie, but you will want to read it first.

I promise you will not be disappointed.


Bees, Bones and Stanley Tucci

I just saw that The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd has been made into a movie! I just read the book this spring and absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to see the movie…I hope it is true to the book which is hard to say with movie adaptations of books. IMDB.com says its release is in October 2008 and that Queen Latifah is in it. I love her. She is an incredible role model for women of all ages.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is due out in October of 2009! It seems like I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time. I was so excited when I heard Peter Jackson was making a movie version. I just added this book to the Good Reads page…I cannot believe I didn’t have it there already. I listened to the audiobook which made it even more powerful in my opinion because it was as if Susie was speaking to you from heaven. UGH!! Stanley Tucci is playing the George Harvey; Stanley Tucci is such a great actor. How can you not love his work? One of my favorite movies of his is Big Night. It is about family, frustration and food. I just love the ending.

This week the kids are with grandparents, so A and I get a date!!! We NEVER hire a sitter which is terrible seeing as how I once gave A a gift of dates (lining up the sitter once a month for one year). I thought it was a good gift because my intentions were good, but as it turns out, I suck at lining up a sitter. Evidentially, I also suck at being in charge of the Netflix queue if you ask A.

So, we are going to a farmer’s market, then to The Happening movie. I’m a baby when it comes to scary movies, so I’m hoping that I can watch some of it.