Thirteen-year-old Flutie lives on the edge of an enormous quiet that she wants to transcend. Her family's life in Western Oklahoma, her father's job repairing old cars and tractors, her brother's betrayal, and her mother's indifference are all parts of a story Flutie wants to tell if she can just find the words. In a library book, Flutie reads the myth of Philomela, whose tongue was cut out by her sister's husband so she cannot tell that he raped her. As Flutie faces the poverty of the the land and the turmoil of...
Thirteen-year-old Flutie lives on the edge of an enormous quiet that she wants to transcend. Her family's life in Western Oklahoma, her father's job repairing old cars and tractors, her brother's betrayal, and her mother's indifference are all parts of a story Flutie wants to tell if she can just find the words. In a library book, Flutie reads the myth of Philomela, whose tongue was cut out by her sister's husband so she cannot tell that he raped her. As Flutie faces the poverty of the the land and the turmoil of her family, she feels she is also without a tongue. She is not just afraid to speak, she is afraid of being. She especially fears her own imagination which produces visions of deer and a spirit woman that she doesn't understand. For a time, Flutie loses herself in drinking and drugs and a friendship that turns oppressive. But through her inner resources and the influence of a kind neighbor, she claims her own voice.
In Glancy's third novel (following Pushing the Bear, LJ 7/96), we meet Flutie Moses, a Native American girl growing up in Western Oklahoma who, in a reflection of the frustration around her, is so shy that she cannot speak. Her father and her brother, Franklin, operate a dead-end business. Both Franklin and their mother spend time in jail. In her adolescent years, Flutie turns to drugs and alcohol to escape both her family's turmoil and poverty and her visions of deer and spirit women. Through a library book, Flutie finds strength from the tale of Philomela, whose tongue is cut out by her sister's husband so that she cannot tell he raped her. Flutie eventually gains control of the power of speech and of her own life, graduating from high school and going on to college. Glancy's conservative prose spins a story of great emotional honesty and power. Highly recommended for all collections.Carolyn Ellis Gonzalez, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio Lib.
Prolific Native American novelist and essayist Glancy (The West Pole, 1997) returns to territory she first explored in the short novel The Only Piece of Furniture in the House (1996), probing the spiritual resources and yearnings of apparently nondescript figures. Flutie, her heroine, is 13 when we first meet her, living in a hard, grim little Oklahoma town, held at arm's length by a ferociously unhappy mother, and yearning for support, which is not forthcoming, from her taciturn father. He's a Cherokee, long cut off from his peopleþthe only tie he maintains to that past is a sweatlodge behind the house, to which he periodically retreats. Flutie has more than the usual set of adolescent problems: Following a childhood accident, and her grisly mistreatment by a doctor, she finds it difficult to say more than a few halting words. Ignored by her schoolmates and by her family, tormented by visions of supernatural messengers, and without any sort of religious framework to explain her experiences, she repeatedly sinks into lethargic dismay. Glancy demonstrates a strong and very particular gift for catching the way in which spiritual yearnings work on an untutored mind. The narrative follows Flutie through adolescence and on to college. Along the way, she experiments disastrously with drugs and alcohol, learns, painfully, to begin to distance herself from her self-destructive family, and even discovers a calling. More importantly, buoyed by her visions of the natural world and the mysterious spirituality woven into it, she begins, haltingly, to speak. Readers may find Glancy's terse descriptions of Flutie's dysfunctional family repetitive and unenlightening. And her slow, subtleexcavation of Flutie's consciousness (which is particularly fragmented in the early scenes) may prove tedious for some. Still, there's real power and originality in Glancy's stubborn focus on seemingly impoverished lives. Her insistence on the saving presence of spirituality in even badly damaged characters is moving and, ultimately, convincing.
Diane Glancy is the author of many novels, essays and books of poetry. She has won the North American Indian Prose Award and the Capricorn Prize for poetry. Part Cherokee, Glancy teaches Native American literature and creative writing at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.