by Joseph Bruchac
Dial Books for Young Readers, NY 2018.
The Other F-Word
by Natasha Friend
Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, NY 2017
After the disappointment of Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro, I found these two books that presented identity quests in a believable way. Isn’t it peculiar that fiction can be better than memoir?
Two Roads is set in 1932, during the Depression in the United States. Cal Black, age 12, and his father live as hoboes. Having lost both mother and family farm, Cal and his father, a veteran of World War I, ride the rails. When the vets converge on Washington, D.C. to demand the bonuses promised them, Cal’s Pop decides he must join them. It is then that he reveals to his son that he is a full-blooded Creek Indian, making Cal a tribal member as well. Pop sends Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma. Despite the bad conditions at the school, Cal makes friends with other Creek boys, and learns about his people.
In addition to portraying the era and Cal’s self-discovery with accuracy, this novel offers readers a close and heart-wrenching look at the lives of Native Americans who endured government policies. Be sure to read the Afterword.
The Other F-Word gives readers a handful of delightful, lovable characters as we follow four children on a quest to discover the identity of their sperm donor. Milo and Hollis were born to lesbian couples. Noah and his twin brother, Josh, have heterosexual parents. All share the same donor, #9677. Included in this group is Milo’s friend, J.J. Rabinowitz, perhaps my favorite, who is adopted and looks nothing like his family.
I zoomed through this book, enjoying the personalities, the humor, and the believability of it all. Oh, and the other f-word is family.