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Posted January 31, 2013
Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
"Code Talker" by Ivon Blum takes two critical periods of history and writes a parallel process novel. Native American Marine Talking Boy Gorman is trained as a Navajo code talker. His job is to confuse communications intercepted by the Japanese during World War II. As the story unfolds, the unit is at Iwo Jima on D-Day in February of 1945 and Talking Boy has just been seriously injured. This brings a series of flashbacks in which the demise of the Navajo Nation is occurring during a period of time in 1861 when the US Government attempted to eliminate the Native American population as a threat to an expanding nation. That part of the story is told through the eyes and ears of Juanito, a Mexican/Native American man who attempts to find his identity through going back to the tribe of a Native American woman he has rescued from potential slavery. As he remembers the stories told to him by his family, Talking Boy begins to understand the motivation of his ancestors who fought to the end rather than surrender a heritage that was theirs.
For history buffs, "Code Talker" is a fascinating journey into a past in which a parallel process seems to occur between two time frames. Both Talking Boy and Juanito have unresolved issues as to where they belong and what appears to motivate them. At first, they react to hate and later, they come to realize they are but players in a greater drama. I loved the way Blum interwove the two stories and how Navajo history and spiritual beliefs come to life in the characters portrayed in the Navajo Nation. The book's messages will stay with you long after you close the book.