I Am Nuchu

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Cheryl Williams Chang
Cal's mom is getting divorced and has decided to move the family from Spokane, Washington, to the Ute Indian reservation in Utah where she grew up. Cal, his brother and sister, are stunned by the harsh landscape and dilapidated buildings in the town where their new home will be. Cal and his siblings are half Caucasian and half Ute Indian. His heritage has never been a concern to him, but moving to the reservation, where he did not want to be, Cal comes face to face with racism. He soon finds out that there are secrets embedded in his family's past. He wants to understand these secrets, but no one will talk. He discovers that he had an aunt, but she was murdered. Cal is determined to find answers, but the closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous his search becomes. A terrible accident occurs, causing more problems and unanswered questions. This fast paced suspense-drama-mystery is well worth the read. The subjects of racism, peer pressure, self-discovery, and the meaning of family are portrayed in this novel. High school social studies, history, and humanities classes could easily offer this book as well as a high school library. Reviewer: Cheryl Williams Chang
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—After a divorce, Cal, Doran, and their younger sister move with their mother from Spokane, WA, to "the res"—Fort Duchesne in Eastern Utah. Older brother Cal is unhappy with the move, while Doran, a "contented soul," is willing to make the best of it. They move in with their grandfather, a tribal elder, and begin to experience their Indian heritage. The author doesn't sugarcoat the drinking and the dead ends that exist at the Fort. The shortcomings of white folks in town are just as starkly portrayed, with taunts of "Tonto" and racist cutouts taped to lockers at school. The author treads lightly when discussing Native American traditions, as her characters are out of touch with their Indian heritage, and readers and Cal learn together that Nuchu is the name that Ute people call themselves. The story and characters sometimes seem thinly drawn. The revelation that Eddie (a possible victim of fetal alcohol syndrome) is a close relative causes barely a ripple of comment. There is a paternity secret that everyone (but the two brothers) seems to be in on, and a long-past murder and one within the narrative, both of which get little real investigation. The stories of some of the characters seem to be missing pieces or are unfinished. Suicidal tendencies of one of them appear out of nowhere. Still, the strong sense of place, a basketball plotline, and Cal's gradual appreciation of both sides of his heritage might draw some readers to this novel.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934813478
  • Publisher: West Side Books
  • Publication date: 11/25/2010
  • Pages: 340
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 30, 2010

    A story that will touch your soul

    I live in an area where there are Indian Reservations around. I never have thought much to how they live or interact with others. This book was an eye-opener to a culture I never knew or tried to understand. I loved the characters and the story they told. We need more books like this to become a more diverse community. Eden resident

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2010

    A Universal Story

    Although this is a story about a Native American teenager, it could be set just about anywhere the races exist in a tense atmosphere. Cal Burton is uprooted from a comfortable and tolerant existence in WA State, into a super-charged, racially intolerant town in Utah. Kids will love it. It's filled with teen angst, lots of action, and even a mystery. The ending is uplifting and very satisfying. It is fiction, and thus the author takes more than a few liberties with time line and geography, but those liberties are lost in the compelling story. Highly recommended.

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