Sunday, August 17, 2014

A killer line in Jaye Robin Brown's NO PLACE TO FALL

Yesterday, Kelly Jensen of Book Riot tweeted that 20 pages into a YA novel, she came across this line: 
[H]e must be part Indian. Red dot, not feather.
I asked for the title, and she pointed me to her review at goodreads, where she said:
You lost me right there, with that line. No need to read more.
I'd have that reaction, too. I've heard the phrase used before. It reduces Indians to red dots, and American Indians to feathers. Pretty gross.   


Anonymous said...

But if you haven't read the book yourself, how can you make a snap judgement without knowing the context?

Kelly Jensen said...

Well, I'm the one who read it and can tell you, no context is appropriate for that line. And it certainly didn't fit that passage in the book.

It's my hope that this will disappear by the final version -- I was reading an ARC -- but it was jarring and out of place.

Debbie Reese said...

Anonymous--this is the sort of thing that happens, I believe, when the author does not imagine (in this case), an Indian, or an American Indian as a reader of the book.

Would the author approach an Indian or an American Indian and say that to him or her?

Books speak to readers, and what they say and how they say it is often quite telling with respect to awareness of the diversity of the US.

Anonymous said...

Criticizing any book and saying that it is bad and unrecommendable without reading it all the way through is exactly what the conservative book banners do with books like those by Sherman Alexie. We're better than that.

NotJack said...


It depends on the reason for reviewing these books. If you are looking to warn native people about racist stereotypes, cultural misappropriation, and so on, then well done.

If the point of the book is for a racist to realize that Hindus and Anishnaabeg are people too, I have to wonder if there isn't something more appropriate for native students?