Friday, October 07, 2011

MY NAME IS NOT EASY, by Debby Dahl Edwardson

Yesterday I read Debby Dahl Edwardson's My Name Is Not Easy. It is a powerful novel, moving me in the same ways that Joseph Bruchac's Hidden Roots did.  Powerful governmental institutions did some really horrible things to Indigenous people.

My Name Is Not Easy is one of those novels that brings those horrible events to a wide audience. Joe wrote about sterilization in his novel; Debby writes about using Alaska Native children in boarding schools to conduct experiments involving radioactive iodine. I didn't know about those tests.

There's more, too. A child being taken from his family, abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest...

Because of the story itself, and the power and grace and beauty of Debby's writing as she recounts this family story, I highly recommend My Name Is Not Easy, and it will be one of the books I discuss when I do workshops and talks with teachers and librarians.

Read Debby's blog to see where she'll be speaking about the book. There, you'll also find contact information. Invite her to speak at your school. She lives in Alaska, but does Skype visits, too.

See a video of Debby's husband at a post from October of 2011


mb said...

OK, ordered _My Name Is Not Easy_. No budget money at the moment, so I just ordered it for myself at the local bookstore. That's fair anyway, because I'll probably be the only one who reads it.

I've mentioned this before. The readers in the Lower Elwha community do NOT want to read depressing books about Indian issues. I try to buy what we ought to have (with budget or grant money when there is any, or with my credit card.) That part of our collection looks pretty good, both adult and kids books. But these titles don't get much (i.e. any) check-out action, except occasionally by higher ed students with papers to write.

Miriam Bobkoff
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Library
some of the time

Anonymous said...

Oh, mb, I hear you. There's always a small population who do want to read the depressing stories because it stokes their desire for justice. But there are a lot who would be more interested in reading if it were more fun and this isn't fun.

The depressing stories get published because they seem more worthy. It's hard to see that a light comedy with an American Indian main character is just as worthy (actually more, because I think it is harder to write).

Thank you for buying the book, though. Because I am afraid that if it doesn't sell well, the publisher will say, "See, books with minorities, they just don't sell," instead of "depressing books, they are a hard sell."

Marlena said...

Hello! I just started reading this book. I hope to assign it as a summer reading book for my rising 7th grade students. I will be teaching them US History.
What are your thoughts on giving this book to students ages 12 to 13 years old?
Your comments are greatly appreciated!

Debbie Reese said...

Hi Marlena, I think that is your decision to make, based on your reading of the book and your knowledge of the students and the community. It is a terrific book.