Give Me My Father’s Body by Kenn Harper

Give Me My Father's BodyThis is a well-researched account of the life of Minik Wallace, the “New York Eskimo,” who was brought from polar Greenland with his father and four others by Robert Peary, the northern explorer. (He was reputed to have discovered the North Pole, but that is very much in question.)

It is a tragic story. The group were treated as scientific specimens and, though they had been told they could return home, four of the group died of TB after having been housed in the Museum of Natural History. Minik, a child, was adopted by an American, though the museum and Peary refused to help support him. He sought repeatedly to claim his father’s bones, on exhibit, for a traditional burial. He returned north after many years, but he had forgotten his native language and had difficulty fitting back into the Eskimo culture.

This book is densely and carefully written. I found it slow going, though I very much wanted to know what became of this young man, who didn’t seem to fit in anywhere and was so poorly treated by his adopted country.

Reviewed by Sue D.

The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Hummingbird's DaughterA friend recommended this, and I checked it out. I realized I’d read it before, but I liked it so much, I read it again. It is wonderful.

Set in Mexico in the late 1800’s, it is the story of a young girl with healing gifts, a student of a grandmotherly curandera. It is also about the time of Mexico’s civil war, with social and political struggles.

What makes it even more marvelous is that it is based on the true stories and myths of the author’s great-aunt.

I recommend this highly — a nice, long, engaging summer read.

Reviewed by Sue D.