Friday, May 11, 2018

Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Amanda Skenandore's debut, Between Earth and Sky.

1881: Seven-year-old Alma and her family have moved west to start a school. A school for Indians. Here, the tribal children will learn to integrate into society. To lose their Indian ways and become Americans. It's her father's one true passion and Alma is excited to be part of it all. 

1906: An Indian has been arrested, accused of murdering a federal agent, and awaiting trial out west. When Alma sees the story she knows it can't be true - the accused is her friend, Harry Muskrat, a man she's knows since her school days. A smart and kind man she is certain could never have murdered anyone. And so she convinces her husband, a lawyer, to help. 

But when they travel to Minnesota, Harry staunchly refuses their help, posing a question to Alma that forces her to question her father's cause and her own part in it. 

Between Earth and Sky is a fascinating read. Based on a true case, that of a Lakota man named Tasunka Ota, and the very real Indian boarding schools that began to spring up in the late nineteenth century, the book shines a light on a piece of history many may not be aware of.

Alma herself just wants to be friends with her new classmates. But she doesn't realize the truth about the school or their circumstances - that the children are being ripped from their homes and stripped of their cultures. She does see that they're treated unjustly at the hands of their teacher - punished for not learning English quick enough for example - and she tries to help. She does eventually make friends and begins to learn more about these children and their lives before the school.

Even still, as an adult she doesn't understand why Harry would refuse the help of a white man. And it's then that she finally has to face the fact that what happened all those years ago may have been a grave wrong on the part of her father and everyone else involved with the schools and more. That the treatment of her friends wasn't for their own good at all.

Alma's spunkiness and drive draws the reader in, but it's her overall growth that keeps the reader fully immersed in her story. From the start she's clever and warm, seeing immediately that the kids she's to be schooled with are nothing like the stories and books she's been told. Her determination to make friends is rewarded and her interest in their lives and cultures makes the reader love her even more.

The story isn't sweet or happy. These things happened, fictionalized though they may be, but with Alma as a guide and Harry and the others as her own guide to the truth, Skenandore gives voice to and gives the reader a chance to really consider this dark part of our history and the awful treatment of our nations native people.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Amanda Skenandore and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Although heartbreaking I really do want to read this book ... it sounds like one I'd really enjoy. Thanks for being a part of the tour!