Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Looks Like Daylight by Deborah Ellis

Title: Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
Author: Deborah Ellis
Year Published: 2013

Genre: Young Adult Non-Fiction
Pages: 252
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map)USA and Canada

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): They come from all over the continent--from Iqaluit to Texas, Halda Gwaii to North Carolina. Their stories are sometimes heartbreaking: more often full of pride and hope. You'll meet Tingo, who has spent most of his young life living in foster homes and motels, and is now thriving after becoming involved with a Native Friendship Center; Myleka and Tulane, young Navajo artists; Eagleson, who started drinking at age twelve but now continues his family's tradition working as a carver in Seattle; Nena, whose Seminole ancestors remained behind in Florida during the Indian Removals, and who is heading to New Mexico as winner of her local science fair; Isabella, who defines herself more as Native than American; Destiny, with a family history of alcoholism and suicide, who is now a writer and pow wow dancer.

For years writer and activist Deborah Ellis traveled across the United States and Canada, interviewing indigenous young people. The result is a collection of frank and often surprising interviews with kids aged nine to eighteen, as they talk about their daily lives, about the things that interest them, and about how being Native has affected who they are and how they see the world.

Review: I wanted to fit in one more non-fiction book by the end of 2014 and have always liked Deborah Ellis' books. Previously I've read The Breadwinner (and it's sequel) and I am a Taxi, all of which were good. I haven't read much fiction or any non-fiction about native groups or people and so this book just seemed right when I picked it up. Oh wait, that's not entirely true. I read The Kids from Nowhere and thought it was super interesting.

I am glad I read this book even though I ended up skimming parts of it. Here are some of my thoughts:
  • Each Native youth's story is 2 to 4 pages long, giving the reader a glimpse into their lives. The stories are from girls and boys, from a variety of tribes, rural and urban, and from kids age 9 to 18.
  • The stories are all so different, but there are definite themes that are common: the struggles they experience as Native Americans or Native Canadians and how they are dealing with them to make their lives better
  • Struggles include alcoholic parents, foster care (lots of foster care!), racism, poverty, and what I would call lack of push or someone out there pushing them to be their best. These kids seem to lack push from their own parents, but more notably from the greater white society
  • I liked their interest in their native culture, keeping the language, crafts, and dance alive
  • I hadn't realized there were so many reserves and tribes, I definitely feel like I got a glimpse into what it's like for some of these native kids to grow up in a world that doesn't support them.

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