Bowman's Store: A Journey to Myself

Overview

In this book, a consummate storyteller unfolds his most personal and poignant story: his own. Bowman’s Store traces the journey of writer Joseph “Sonny” Bruchac from a childhood filled with an abundance of both love and secrecy, to the dawning of his career as one of the best-known authors and storytellers of Native American history and lore. Compelling, lyrical, and deeply moving, Bruchac’s memoir tells how he came to fully understand, and eventually claim, his Abenaki heritage, despite his grandparents’ ...
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Overview

In this book, a consummate storyteller unfolds his most personal and poignant story: his own. Bowman’s Store traces the journey of writer Joseph “Sonny” Bruchac from a childhood filled with an abundance of both love and secrecy, to the dawning of his career as one of the best-known authors and storytellers of Native American history and lore. Compelling, lyrical, and deeply moving, Bruchac’s memoir tells how he came to fully understand, and eventually claim, his Abenaki heritage, despite his grandparents’ unspoken pact never to discuss Grandpa’s Indian blood. Through experiences both painful and hilarious, Sonny finds himself drawn to all things Indian long before he learns of his grandfather’s hidden Abenaki roots. Bowman’s Store beautifully weaves themes from Bruchac’s intimate knowledge of Native American cultures with vivid autobiographical scenes to create a touching story about self-discovery.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this poignant memoir, author and storyteller Bruchac (Eagle Song) lays bare the often painful circumstances of his youth and describes the gradual embracing of his Native American heritage. Bruchac is widely known as an expert in Native American culture and lore, especially in the ways of the Abenaki and other woodland peoples. But growing up, his dark-skinned maternal grandfather denied his Indian blood, calling himself "French-Canadian," and told young Joseph that he was a "mongrel." In a strained family situation that is never made completely clear (though descriptions of his father's short-fused temper and brusque manner strongly hint at potential physical violence), Bruchac describes life with his loving Grama and Grampa Bowman. They praised his academic accomplishments and nurtured his strong affinity for the natural world. Although Bruchac's account unfolds choppily at first (each is introduced by a seemingly unrelated memory, dream sequence or Indian story), he interlaces some especially moving passages in which the other students mercilessly taunt him and beat him up because of his dark skin, glasses and his bookish behavior (the school bus was a terrifying gauntlet). The narrative soon gathers the emotional momentum that will compel readers to the satisfying final chapters where a confident Bruchac shines in his success at Cornell, reflects on a less tense, respectful relationship with his father and discusses the beginnings of his writing career. A smattering of b&w photos provide a visual family history and highlight Bruchac's relationship with his beloved Grampa Jesse. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Subtitled "A Journey to Myself," Bruchac offers a very personal account of his early years. Raised by loving but overprotective grandparents, Bruchac struggled to find himself and his Native American heritage. He felt a kinship with nature and Native Americans that seemed to have no rational explanation, since his grandfather's true heritage was kept hidden due to prejudice. As an adult, he learned about his Native American roots, which he and his sons have totally embraced. Bruchac has steeped himself in Abenaki culture and has become a well-known Native American storyteller.
KLIATT - Patricia Moore
Small of build, nearsighted and blessed with total recall, Joseph Bruchac was raised near Saratoga, New York, by his grandparents, who sheltered him from his abusive father. Only later in life did he learn that his grandfather was an Abenaki Indian, for his family never spoke of this heritage. Bruchac's journey to himself is a journey to his roots, to his Abenaki heritage. Through his study and inquiries, he has led his sister and his two sons to identification with the traditions, songs and stories of their ancestors. That tale is the background, however, for this story of his childhood, cared for and lovingly taught by his semi-literate Abenaki grandfather and his law school-educated Yankee grandmother. Now a well-known writer on North American native traditions, Bruchac does honor to his own.
VOYA - Richard Gercken
Children's and YA writer Bruchac grew up in a gas station/general store near the Adirondacks in New York, raised by a protective grandmother and a loving grandfather who kept secret his Abenaki blood and background. Bruchac tells us his book is about a search for his native American roots; but it is really the story of a hard childhood, adolescence, and early manhood. It also is a glowing portrait of the grandfather neither he nor any reader will ever forget. Lyrical dream passages and whimsical Abenaki tales alternate with straightforward autobiography about being an unpopular outsider in school. Bruchac may show a couple too many instances of being picked on; and like so many native American reminiscences today, this has its share of smugness and portraying the native American as perfect, noble natural man. But Bruchac is sensitive, wise, well read, and experienced. Despite a jacket and family photographs (wonderful!) not geared for YA, this is an adult book that will appeal to young readers interested in native Americans or culture clash, and certainly to anyone wanting to know more about the writer of such good picture books and YA novels. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up--Bruchac takes readers into the circle of his past in this autobiography that covers his life from his earliest memories to the death of his maternal grandfather, Jesse Bowman, in 1970. He tells about growing up with his grandparents, who ran a country store and gas station. He describes his grandfather as a gentle yet strong man, unschooled but wise in his sense of justice and honesty, and his grandmother, a well-educated and stubborn woman who defied her family by marrying their hired man. Strong but overprotective, she sheltered her grandson from school-yard bullies. Bruchac tells his life chronologically and includes references to Abenaki culture and some legends. Chapters begin with Native American tales from a variety of tribes. Black-and-white reproductions of mostly family photographs lend strong atmosphere to the evocative text. The author's early life (this account ends when he's 28 years old) is a lesson in persistence and survival: his family did not acknowledge their Abenaki past, yet he recovered it and champions his Native heritage. He was, for reasons unclear to him and to readers, the center of intergenerational hostility, having been removed from his parents who lived and raised Bruchac's two sisters only a mile from Bowman's store. However, this is not just the story of one life but the story of a nation.--Loriene Roy, University of Texas, Austin
Nina Jaffe
Not every book can speak in a voice that is both personal and mythic, historic in scope yet intimate in the boundaries of its details and recollection. With this memoir, Joseph Bruchac weaves strands of native American myths, history and contemporary social movements together with the events of his childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. -- Nina Jaffe, New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Bruchac (Eagle Song, 1997, etc.) tells of his life, with great compassion for those he loved and for the little boy he was, woven with Abenaki tales from his heritage.

"Sonny" Bruchac lived with his grandparents in the Adirondack foothills of upstate New York, although his parents and younger sisters were not far away. In stories that spin out in the circular ripples of a pond, he chronicles his growing up, beginning each chapter with a First Peoples' story that illuminates what is to come. He was an undersized, bookish, lonely boy, but he was given extraordinary, sustaining love and wisdom from his grandparents. Readers see the furtive, unfolding truth about the grandfather's Abenaki heritage, a major family tragedy and terrible fear dealt with, the deep bonds with the landscape and wildlife. The writing soars, so well-crafted that readers might overlook that this is as much the story of the grandparents as it is Bruchac's own. Teenagers attempting to resolve their own family knots and tangles will find much here that is resonant, but Bruchac's triumph is in the emotional honesty and limpid strength of his working of the words.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584300274
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 328
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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