White Girl

Overview

"I never thought about being white. I didn't have to. I was transparent-no colour at all. I hung out, was a good enough student and no one paid any special attention to me at all. Then I became a white girl."

Until she was fourteen, Josie was pretty ordinary. Then her Mom meets Martin, "a real ponytail Indian," and before long, Josie finds herself living on a reserve outside town, with a new stepfather, a new stepbrother, and a new name-"Blondie." In town, white was the ambient ...

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Overview

"I never thought about being white. I didn't have to. I was transparent-no colour at all. I hung out, was a good enough student and no one paid any special attention to me at all. Then I became a white girl."

Until she was fourteen, Josie was pretty ordinary. Then her Mom meets Martin, "a real ponytail Indian," and before long, Josie finds herself living on a reserve outside town, with a new stepfather, a new stepbrother, and a new name-"Blondie." In town, white was the ambient noise, the no-colour background. On the reserve, she's White, and most seem to see her only for her blond hair and blue eyes. Her mother's no help. She never leaves the house, gripped by her fear of the "wild Indians" beyond Martin's doorstep. But Josie can't afford to hide out forever. She has to go to school, and she has to get herself a life, one way or another. So bit by bit, she finds a way through the minefields. She makes a friend, Rose, with whom she tries to bridge the chasms between out and in, white and Indian, town and reserve. She finds a family in Martin, Luke, and Grandma. And bit by bit, the place itself, the reserve-the run-down houses, the way the people live in them and around them, the forest and the sea-finds its way into her, like nothing else ever has, or ever will.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Fourteen-year-old Josie, with her white-blond hair and light blue eyes, is the last person you'd expect to see on an Indian reserve, much less living there. Still, here she is. Her mom has married Martin, an Indian, and they've moved to his house on the reserve. Now, they are to be a family: Josie, her mom, Martin, and Luke, her stepbrother. Although her mother chooses to hide out in the house, tuning out what she feels by tuning into TV, the school year is starting and Josie must face her awkward situation. Luckily, it isn't long before she meets Rosie, and the two girls become friends. Rosie helps Josie learn about the reserve and the people, and she helps the outsider gain a sense of belonging. As Josie settles in, she meets Martin's mother, who becomes an instant grandmother to her. She also meets Martin's brother, Arnie, who hates anyone white. Finally, she meets Zeb Prince, an older Indian boy who helps Josie sort through her thoughts and feelings as she learns important lessons about her family, her community, and herself. Sylvia Olsen's novel is sure to appeal to anyone who has ever felt out of place. It may be appropriate for mature middle school readers, but the story does delve deeply into themes of suicide and racism. This would be a solid addition to most library collections. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Sono Nis, dist. by Orca, 234p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Following her highly acclaimed Girl with a Baby (Sono Nis, 2004), Olsen scores another winner. Josie Jessop, 15, moves onto an Indian reserve when her mother marries Martin Angus, whom her mom describes as a "real ponytail Indian." Angry at losing her "normal" life and friends to become a stepdaughter and the target of racial conflict on the reserve, Josie finds untapped integrity within herself, a supportive new family complete with a grandmother, the truest friend she has ever had, and a hot love interest to boot. Perhaps the only drawback is that the indigenous group, and the reserve on which they live, is unidentified. Certainly the issues of racial and family conflict at the heart of this story are universal and could realistically play out in a similar fashion on most reservations in the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately though, leaving the culture unspecified may unwittingly reinforce the stereotype that all indigenous cultures are the same. It also somewhat diminishes the credibility of the traditional cleansing practices depicted for the bedroom of Martin's suicidal sister. Despite this debatable weakness, White Girl is an outstanding story on many levels, and a much-needed addition to the body of contemporary Indian literature for teens.-Sean George, Memphis-Shelby County Public Library & Information Center, Memphis, TN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550391473
  • Publisher: Sono Nis Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,540,459
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Sylvia Olsen is the author of many books and has been nominated for and won numerous awards. She usually writes for children and young adults about the place between cultures where Canada's First Nations and settlers come together. She is also a storyteller who loves to work with young people to help them find their written and spoken voice. Sylvia is the mother of four and grandmother of seven. She lives in North Saanich near Victoria, British Columbia.

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