A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

by Michael Dorris | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780446387873 Global Overview for this book
Registered by LittleBigDave of Selby, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on 10/26/2008
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Journal Entry 1 by LittleBigDave from Selby, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Sunday, October 26, 2008
We read this novel as part of the pastoral care course at seminary. Partly it was to introduce characters of backgrounds differing from essentially anyone else in the course, to introduce situations and people to whom one might eventually be called upon to minister.

The book begins with the tale of Rayona, a middle-teenage girl who is having problems adjusting to life (of course, which middle-teenage girl is not having problems? one might ask). Her problems are magnified by her alcoholic mother, her distant grandmother, her mixed-race parentage, and her general feeling of being caught between two (or more) worlds.

The book continues in its second part with a backward look at Rayona's mother, Christine, who came of age on a reservation (being an American Indian -- when she was being raised, the term 'native American' had not yet become standard). She was also distant from her mother, we learn, who was known as 'aunt Ida' (exemplifying the distance in the relationship even at the outset).

The third part is yet again a backward progression to Ida's life, so that as we get to know more and more about the background of the person, we begin to see how the child and grandchild turned out as they did.

Each of the three parts bring us further back into the past, and provide us with a different perspective on what is happening in the present. We see, for instance, the encounter of Christine and Rayona returning to the reservation and encountering Aunt Ida on the riding lawn mower, from the perspective in turn of each of the participants: Rayona, who feels abandoned by her mother; Christine, who feels abandoned by her mother Aunt Ida; Ida, who has so much baggage that she is both accepting and rejecting simultaneously, afraid to show the concern that truly beats within her heart. A fascinating trinity of perspectives which interpermeate to give a full picture, but only for the patient.

In pastoral care settings, one will not normally get this kind of insight and detail, but it is a wonderful novel in which to see a unique set of characters who, if one were to encounter them on the street or, say, in a bus station, one might easily overlook as uninteresting.

This is a thoughtful account, full of 'touchy/feely' details, and will appeal to those who are looking for that. There is little action in the book, and no real mystery (beyond the basic 'who are these people?' question). These are, in fiction, what I generally prefer. And yet, I found it engrossing and entertaining, and hard to put down.

Released 10 yrs ago (11/15/2008 UTC) at Bus Shelter - Southport Rd, near Fiveways Pub in Ormskirk, Lancashire United Kingdom

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