Call Me the Canyon: A Love Story

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Johanna Denzin Bradley
In the late 1880s, Lester Demming and his daughter Madolen scratch out a harsh life in the canyons of Southeastern Utah. Madolen's mother was Navajo, and after her death, Demming retreats into silence. So when Mormon missionaries offer to take Madolen in, she quickly accepts. Creel sympathetically depicts Mormonism, but she excels at describing the typology of Utah—the rugged beauty of the rocks and plateaus where the spirits of the "Ancient Ones" still dwell. A strength of the novel is Creel's ability to weave in archeological information about the ancient Indian civilizations of the region, while she also explains the spread of mining, ranching, and Mormonism in the area. Her female characters are well-drawn, but she is less successful in showing Madolen's spiritual and emotional journey from embracing the Mormon faith, to her love affair with a wealthy Harvard law student, to her eventual marriage to a Navajo trader. Creel never fully develops what it means to Madolen to be part Navajo, and her depiction of Navajo culture is lacking in nuance.
KLIATT - Sherri Forgash Ginsberg
Madolen, whose mother is Native American, has been raised solely by her white father, who is cynical and bitter. The teenager is clamoring for more exposure to a wider world and jumps at the opportunity to go live with a Mormon family. The family seems to have altruistic leanings and mainly wants to teach Madolen how to read and write. They expect her to do chores around the house, but not in a servant's role. She blossoms in this generous family, but a cruel accident occurs; although she is not solely responsible for it, the family sees her as a daily reminder of the event and wants her to move away. Her father will not take her back, and this lovely, strong, determined young woman must struggle to not only make a life, but a good and happy one. The plot is slow moving, which allows the reader to feel the cadence of life in the West before it was developed. It's an amazing love story, and Madolen is a character to admire and cherish. It's excellent historical fiction.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Fifteen-year-old Madolen, who is half Navajo, has been raised by her prospector father in Glen Canyon at the end of the 19th century. When a Mormon family offers to take her in and teach her to read, she jumps at the chance. Later she strikes out on her own and becomes the guide for a handsome archaeologist. At first he resists her advances, but sorrow over a tragedy brings them together. Their relationship is short-lived, however, and when Wallis returns to the East, she decides to stay in her beloved canyon. The story is told by Madolen, and her voice is much too sophisticated for her character as developed. This is especially true when she meets her love interest and her descriptions of him wax especially eloquent. Creel has carefully researched the teen's world, giving faithful descriptions of the history of the Mormons in the area, the mining attempts of Robert Stanton, and the condition of the Navajo nation during the period. However, the historical facts sometimes feel tacked on and interrupt the natural flow of the story. The book is recommended for those with special interest in Utah/Arizona history, but for others it is a secondary purchase.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Madolen's life has been narrow, hard and lonely since her mother died. Seeing no one but her father in a remote part of Utah at the end of the 19th century, the surprising offer of a Mormon family (the Olsens) to adopt her means not just other women for friends, but a chance to learn to read and see something of the world. Her father's determination that if she goes, she will no longer be kin is painful, but the pull to be part of society is too strong. The Olsen mother and daughter give Madolen a taste for female companionship as well as some book-learning, but when tragedy strikes, Madolen is truly on her own. Struggling to survive in the canyons of Utah requires all her skills and knowledge from both parts of her life. A young wealthy Easterner arrives to arouse her interest and love with his outsider's appreciation for the flora, fauna and natural beauty around them. A bittersweet romance grounded in an unusual place and time, with the added bonus of an introduction to early Mormon daily life and beliefs. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780976812647
  • Publisher: Brown Barn Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Pages: 211
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Grandma Bev for TeensReadToo.com

    The wild canyon country of the western United States was relatively unexplored at the turn of the century, but it was home to fifteen-year-old Madolen. She has been raised by her prospector father since the death of her Navajo mother. A Mormon family offers a different kind of life for Madolen, and she leaves her father's cabin to live with them. <BR/><BR/>She is eager to experience life in the outside world, and now she will help out with the never-ending work on the Olsen's farm, and be educated in math, reading, and the Mormon religion. Her life with the Olsen family is a joy, and she and the Olsen daughter, Claire, share a deep friendship. A tragedy intervenes, and Madolen leaves her home with them to become the guide to a handsome archaeologist as he explores the canyons for native artifacts and art. <BR/><BR/>Ann Howard Creel provides rich historical detail about the canyon area, the Navajo nation, and the attempts at gold recovery. Madolen is a compelling character and I felt her joy and pain as she fell in love with Wallis, and her worry over her dying father. The story is narrated by Madolen in eloquent prose and colorful descriptions. The lure of gold and the natural dangers of the canyon country are always just below the surface in this fast-paced, unique, and unpredictable story. <BR/><BR/>I highly recommend this book for its entertainment and historical value. This is an author that I will be watching for.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2007

    a reviewer

    The wild canyon country of the western United States was relatively unexplored at the turn of the century, but it was home to fifteen-year-old Madolen. She has been raised by her prospector father since the death of her Navajo mother. A Mormon family offers a different kind of life for Madolen, and she leaves her father's cabin to live with them. She is eager to experience life in the outside world, and now she will help out with the never-ending work on the Olsen's farm, and be educated in math, reading, and the Mormon religion. Her life with the Olsen family is a joy, and she and the Olsen daughter, Claire, share a deep friendship. A tragedy intervenes, and Madolen leaves her home with them to become the guide to a handsome archaeologist as he explores the canyons for native artifacts and art. Ann Howard Creel provides rich historical detail about the canyon area, the Navajo nation, and the attempts at gold recovery. Madolen is a compelling character and I felt her joy and pain as she fell in love with Wallis, and her worry over her dying father. The story is narrated by Madolen in eloquent prose and colorful descriptions. The lure of gold and the natural dangers of the canyon country are always just below the surface in this fast-paced, unique, and unpredictable story. I highly recommend this book for its entertainment and historical value. This is an author that I will be watching for. **Reviewed by: Grandma Bev

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2007

    Romance where you don't expect it

    This book has absolutely beautiful descriptions of the canyons and mountains of the West, but I didn't expect to find a great exploration of how Mormon families lived around 1900, an explanation of a gold-mining enterprise (which didn't work), and a realistic, convincing love story. Terrific read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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