Faces in the Moon

Overview

"As my grandmother was dying, she told my mother, then nine years old, that she would always be watching her from the moon. And throughout her childhood, my mother sat on her back porch and waited for her mother's face to appear in the moon. Sometimes she saw it clear and defined, and she went to bed happy." Faces in the Moon is the story of three generations of Cherokee women, as viewed by the youngest, Lucie, a woman who has been able to use education and her imagination to escape the confines of her rootless, impoverished upbringing. When her
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1994 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. American Indian Literature & Critical Studies (Hardcover), 9. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

"As my grandmother was dying, she told my mother, then nine years old, that she would always be watching her from the moon. And throughout her childhood, my mother sat on her back porch and waited for her mother's face to appear in the moon. Sometimes she saw it clear and defined, and she went to bed happy." Faces in the Moon is the story of three generations of Cherokee women, as viewed by the youngest, Lucie, a woman who has been able to use education and her imagination to escape the confines of her rootless, impoverished upbringing. When her mother's illness summons her back to Oklahoma, Lucie finds herself confronted with the legacy of a childhood she has worked hard to separate from her adult self. Her mother, Gracie, and her maternal aunt, Auney are members of the Cherokees' "lost generation," women who rejected the traditional rural ways in search of a more glamorous life as autonomous working women. With tragic irony, Gracie and Auney do not recognize that white America has exploited and rejected them, nor do they understand why. In foolish pursuit of the American dream, they have lost the respect of their own people without earning the respect of mainstream society. For the girl Lucie, being an Indian means living in a shack near Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where her mother works in a restaurant, and trying to cope with the succession of men who enter and leave her mother's house. Her understanding changes when, at a low point in Gracie's life, Lucie is sent to live with her great aunt Lizzie, a stern farm and "full-blooded" woman who reveals to Lucie the existence of alternatives to her mother's uprooted ways of living. Throughout the novel, Bell has woven together the sounds of women's voices, telling and retelling stories, explaining and speculating, comforting and seeking comfort. From this piece of her own family history, and from the voices of those women as they preserved that history and imbued their own lives with meaning through the retelling of ta
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Female relationships, kinship and the diverse meanings of ``Indian'' in modern, white-dominated society are the themes at the heart of this generous first novel. The plot centers on three generations of Cherokee women. Gracie Evers is overweight, has peroxided hair and longs for nothing more than assimilation into the Caucasian culture of rural Oklahoma; the same is true of her sister and sometime boarder Rozellen. Gracie has trouble handling her daughter Lucie, a throwback to the fiery personality of her mother Hellen, and often abuses the girl for having an ``Indian'' nature. When Gracie marries an alcoholic and violent white man, Lucie is sent to live with her great-aunt Lizzie, a taciturn Indian who helps the child gain the freedom to be who she truly is. Told largely in flashbacks by Lucie, who has returned home following her hated mother's stroke, the novel is elegantly written in spare prose replete with meaningful details and realistic dialogue. Bell, herself a Cherokee, deeply understands the culture she writes about and conveys that understanding unobtrusively, yet with great emotional power. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this moving first novel, Bell (a mixed-blood Cherokee) confronts the ``lost generation'' of Indian women, personified by Grace, who tries unsuccessfully to enter the mainstream of the white world. Her daughter Lucie's horrendous childhood of struggle and abuse is relieved only by a two-year stay with a great-aunt, who instills in her a sense of pride. Despite the odds, she is now a successful college professor. Returning to Oklahoma for Grace's final illness, Lucie spends some painful solitary hours examining the shame she has felt for her mother, who lacked both the skills needed to thrive in the white world and pride in her Cherokee heritage. She finds a link to Grace as she rummages through her things is able to engage in the generations-old tradition of proudly seeking the face of her mother when she sees the moon. For larger Native American and women's studies collections.-- Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati Technical Coll.
Whitney Scott
Bell's voice resonates with an authenticity garnered from listening to the older voices of Indian women gathered at table. These voices' stories have settled into her being, no matter how much time, education, upward mobility, and physical space might seem to distance her. A Cherokee of mixed blood, Bell meshes her forebears' stories seamlessly with recollections of her own dry, dusty, impoverished childhood in the land where Oklahoma meets Kansas and Texas. She recounts her life with the mother, aunt, great aunt, and others who raised her, taking us along on a "half-breed's" journey to forgiveness, understanding, and self-acceptance as, eventually, she finds and defines herself through the older women's stories. Reminding us of our own searches for personal history and self, Bell tells us she continues to look at the moon, searching it for the faces of these unforgettable women.
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