Yellow Raft in Blue Water

( 19 )

Overview

Michael Dorris has crafted a fierce saga of three generations of Indian women, beset by hardships and torn by angry secrets, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of kinship. Starting in the present day and moving backward, the novel is told in the voices of the three women: fifteen-year-old part-black Rayona; her American Indian mother, Christine, consumed by tenderness and resentment toward those she loves; and the fierce and mysterious Ida, mother and grandmother whose haunting secrets, betrayals, and dreams ...

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Overview

Michael Dorris has crafted a fierce saga of three generations of Indian women, beset by hardships and torn by angry secrets, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of kinship. Starting in the present day and moving backward, the novel is told in the voices of the three women: fifteen-year-old part-black Rayona; her American Indian mother, Christine, consumed by tenderness and resentment toward those she loves; and the fierce and mysterious Ida, mother and grandmother whose haunting secrets, betrayals, and dreams echo through the years, braiding together the strands of the shared past.

Filled with astonishing humor and poignancy, this is a story that reveals the weave of family relationships and the strength of new beginnings.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Earns admiration from first page to last...Suspenseful, constantly gripping, original in its characters and settings, and finally, profoundly moving.” —People

“The writing here is powerful and deeply evocative of scene and place. Michael Dorris has created a set of characters so real that they seem to acquire lives of their own, almost, off the printed page.” —Mademoiselle

“Dazzling.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Spellbinding.” —Los Angeles Times

“Memorable...Marvelous.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Vivid, intense...straight from the heart.” —Newsday (New York)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This spare generational novel presents Rayona, Christine and ``Aunt'' Ida, Native American mothers and daughters bonded by blood and secrets. PW found that this masterful debut, by a Dartmouth professor of Native American studies and the husband-collaborator of Louise Erdrich, ``glows with compassion and integrity.'' April
Library Journal
A powerful novel of three generations of American Indian women, each seeking her own identity while forever cognizant of family responsibilities, loyalty, and love. Rayona, half-Indian half-black daughter of Christine, reacts to feelings of rejection and abandonment by running away, not knowing that her mother had acted in a similar fashion some 15 years before. But family ties draw Rayona hometo the Montana reservationas they drew Christine, and as they had drawn Ida many years earlier. As the three recount their lives, often repeating incidents but adding new perspectives, a total picture emerges. The result is a beautifully passionate first novel reminiscent of Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine and The Beet Queen , but a strong work which should be read and enjoyed for its own merits. Highly recommended. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Library Journal
Set in the Pacific Northwest, this first novel from the late Native American scholar, is a richly rewarding multigenerational exploration of family relationships. It is divided into three parts, each narrated by a different woman. The first voice belongs to Rayona, the 15-year-old daughter of a Native American woman and an African American father who runs off to Seattle after her father abandons the family in the 1980s. Her mother, Christine, narrates the second part, which takes the story back to the 1960s, and Christine's supposed mother, "Aunt Ida," narrates part three, which goes back to the 1940s. While narrator Barbara Rosenblat makes no attempt to provide anything resembling distinctively Native American accents, she does a fine job of differentiating the narrative voices and projecting the emotional range of the characters. A Yellow Raft is a frequently assigned book in schools, so this recording is sure to be in demand in libraries. Recommended.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA The emotional terrain of lives led without the steady presence of fathers or husbands is common ground for the three generations of American Indian women who successively tell their stories in this absorbing novel. Rayona, 15, half black and half Indian, is abandoned by her mother and in turn abandons her Aunt Ida. She disappears from their Montana reservation one summer and gains independence through a job at Bear Paw Lake State Park and a surprising foray into rodeo stardom. Her mother faces what appears to be the last days of her often wild life in the kind company of a misunderstood man who was both a childhood friend and enemy on the reservation. Linked to both is Aunt Ida, the stony family matriarch who lost her favored son to the Viet Nam War and now warms her heart before the electronic fires of television soap operas. The bitter rifts and inevitable bonds between generations are highlighted as the story unravels and spills out a long-kept family secret. Rayona wishes that if she could stare long enough at a yellow wooden raft in the blue waters of the lake, her troubles would be resolved. Readers, too, will wish for the best in the lives of these wonderfully unique characters. Keddy Outlaw, Harris County Public Library, Houston
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Michael Dorris's first novel (Turtleback, 1987) comes to life in this fully voiced reading by Barbara Rosenblat. At 15, Rayona is left by her Native-American mother shortly after her African-American father walks out of their lives again, and this time probably forever. Rayona tries to tolerate life with her grandmother, known by all as Aunt Ida, but when the mission priest sexually harasses this tough but insightful young woman, she leaves the reservation and finds her way into a new life in a Montana state park. After a few weeks' idyll as a maintenance worker sheltered by former hippies, Rayona returns to her mother, Christine. The narrative switches to become an account of how Christine came to be the person Rayona has known. Aunt Ida raised Christine on the reservation, along with Christine's younger brother Lee. Lee's best friend, Dayton, plays a significant role in Christine's life right through the time of Rayona's return years later, but Lee dies as a youth in Vietnam. In the novel's final movement, Aunt Ida's brief but substantial story unfolds: Christine, it turns out, is her daughter only by secret adoption, an act with lifelong consequences undertaken to rescue another woman, Clara, from the shame of bearing the baby of Ida's father while he was married to Ida's mother. Rosenblat gives each of these women-ranging in age from youth through old age-a strength of voice that matches their strengths of character. The symbol of the philandering priest is unfortunately resonant now, but the novel's highly developed iconography of color and elemental forces continues to stand as a literature teacher's friend. Dorris' work lends itself particularly well to oral delivery, and this production is stellar.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312421854
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 117,920
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 8.17 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Dorris’s adult fiction includes The Cloud Chamber, The Crown of Columbus, coauthored with Louise Erdrich, and the story collection Working Men. Among his nonfiction works are The Broken Cord, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and a collection of essays, Paper Trail.

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Reading Group Guide

"Powerful . . . A beautifully passionate first novel." --Library Journal

"A fully realized, exquisitely written piece of fiction." --Booklist

To the teacher:
Michael Dorris's widely acclaimed novel, deemed by many a contemporary classic, spans some forty years, and is set throughout the Pacific Northwest and the West, primarily on a Montana Indian reservation. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a moving, deftly constructed, true-to-life saga of three generations of American Indian women, each beset by hardship, frustration, anger, and other inner -- and outer -- conflicts. However, the magic and brilliance of this book is that these women are also inextricably joined together by the indissoluble bonds of kinship.

Moving backward in time, the novel is "told" to the reader by three distinct and unforgettable heroine-narrators, beginning with the granddaughter Rayona (or Ray, as she is commonly known). On her own at fifteen, Ray is lonely and vulnerable, yet also brave and resilient. She is tough and smart, and is desperately in search of roots and a home -- a search made all the more complicated by her mixed ancestry. (Her mother is American Indian and her absent father is Black.)

Next comes Christine, Ray's mother. A bitter child of the reservation, Christine grew up a devout Catholic, believing in -- and waiting for -- the end of the world. When such a cataclysm failed to materialize, she lost not only her faith but her grasp on existence itself. Later, she lost perhaps the only person she fully loved, her brother Lee. Christine is upset, naturally, at the awful breaks she keeps getting, but moreover she is painfully at odds with how life is supposed to be lived: "You try to make a real world out of what you see on one television channel and what you hear on the radio. You try to put together cute outfits from the secondhand trash at the charity store. You try to have fun when there's nowhere to go [on the reservation] and you might be related to every other boy in town." (p. 141)

And finally there is the fierce and mysterious Ida, Christine's stern mother and Ray's taciturn grandmother. Ida's haunting secrets, betrayals, and dreams -- which we do not encounter until the concluding chapters -- echo through the years, enriching A Yellow Raft in Blue Water in ways both surprising and stirring. By novel's end, the shared past of these three women, a cycle of mystery, loss, and neglect, collides with the uncertain yet hopeful future to create a wise, profound, life-affirming story of familial endearment and individual enlightenment.

Praise for A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
"Three portraits of remarkable psychological density . . . Each of these women speaks to us directly; and together, their voices form a chorus echoing through four decades of family history." --The New York Times

"Eloquent . . . Much of [the book's] power lies in its strong and disparate voices, each of a female generation, entwined with the others and yet fighting for breath." --The Boston Globe

"An unforgettable portrait of Native Americans . . . A rich, multi-layered portrayal of complex events . . . The language is straight from the barrel, the emotions conjured up are straight from the heart." --Newsday

"Michael Dorris gives us not just one tough, hard-fighting woman, but three, their stories unified by the theme of tenacious love. The pace is breakneck, the dialogue nothing short of brilliant, and the women bound to win hearts . . . A bull's-eye of a novel." --Josephine Humphreys

"Poignant and true . . . The overlapping life histories of Rayona, Christine, and Aunt Ida serve as a reminder of the many disguises that love can take . . . Dorris is a wonderful storyteller and a gifted, highly original writer whose style [is] evocative of his part of the country and its distinctive culture." --The Baltimore Sun

"Cleverly illuminating . . . The writing is fresh and graceful . . . the characters are human and very real. These three women tell a story that is more just plain American than American Indian, and more just plain human than American." --Rocky Mountain News

"An absolutely wonderful book . . . A priceless contribution to American literature." --Gloria Naylor, author of The Women of Brewster Place

Preparing to Read
This Teacher's Guide is divided primarily into two sections, which both appear immediately below. The first, "Reading and Understanding this Novel," will help students with reading comprehension, conceptual appreciation, interpreting the narrative, grasping the book's symbols and contexts, and related matters. "Questions and Exercises for the Class," the second section, will enable students to think more broadly, freely, creatively, or comparatively about A Yellow Raft in Blue Water -- both as group and individually. A brief supplementary section, "Suggestions for Further Reading," is offered in conclusion.

Reading and Understanding this Novel
1. Rayona is the first of three different narrators we encounter in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. Who are the other two? How are these three individuals connected? That is, how are both their lives and their narratives connected?

2. Who are Rayona's parents, and how does she feel about them? Which parent matters more to her, and why? Describe Rayona (or Ray, as she is also known). How old is she? What are her likes and dislikes? Where does she live? Is she smart? What does she look like? What does she think of herself? And what do we learn of Ray's social, ethnic, religious, and economic background?

3. Near the end of Chapter 2, Ray realizes that, from now until who knows when, she will live on the reservation with Aunt Ida. Then she drops to the ground and begins to "pull weeds out by their roots, scratch them out with my fingernails. I must make the soil smooth, even, without bristles . . . Nothing else matters to me. Nothing but fixing this dirt." Why is Ray so focused on "fixing" the grassy earth?

4. How do most of the characters in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water regard Father Tom? What point might author Michael Dorris be making here about relations between the Catholic Mission workers and the citizens of the reservation? Also, why does Ray in particular have grounds to despise Father Tom?

5. Who are Sky and Evelyn? Where do they live, and what does each do for a living? How do Sky and Evelyn influence Ray's life? How do they help her? What does this couple give to Ray -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually? 6. Shortly after Ray meets Sky (in Chapter 5), she tells him that her Uncle Lee died while serving in Vietnam. Sky responds to this by saying, "Each one had to make their own decision." What does he mean by this? How does Sky think and feel about the Vietnam conflict? And how do the other key characters in this novel think and feel about it? Do any of these characters, over the course of the book, change their views in this respect? If so, who? And why?

7. Describe the handwritten letter Ray finds while concluding a work-shift at Bearpaw Lake State Park. Who wrote the letter? To whom is it addressed? What does it say? Why does it matter to Ray? Why does she keep it? And why does she say it is "disturbing in a way I can't put my finger on" near the end of Chapter 5?

8. In Chapters 9 through 16, Christine is our narrator. Describe her. What kind of grade school and high school student was she? And what kind of sister, friend, mother, wife, employee, and so on? In short, what are Christine's strengths and shortcomings as a person? Also, why is her health so poor? How and why -- as detailed in Chapters 8 and 20 -- did Christine "lose her faith" in her teens?

9. How would you characterize Christine's relationship with Lee, her younger brother? How are they alike, and how are they different? Why does she refer to him as "the Indian JFK" on more than one occasion? And why, ultimately, does Christine blame herself for Lee's death?

10. Who is Dayton? What do we know for certain of his relationship with Lee -- and what is suggested? What does Christine think of Dayton? And how and why does her opinion of Dayton change over time?

11. Why does Christine fall in love with Elgin? How, if at all, is he different from the other men Christine has dated? What sets him apart? What does she like about him? What does she dislike?

12. In Chapter 14, we find Christine's account of a pivotal time she spent in the hospital, and of how she escaped. These same events are described by Rayona much earlier in the novel, in Chapter 1. Explain how and why the two versions of these events are so different. Looking especially at the point in each narrative where Christine's car breaks down, what does the author seem to be telling us about the relationship between truth and perspective? For what reason does Ray think she has been kicked out of Christine's car (in Chapter 1)? And what is the actual reason for Christine's kicking Ray out (in Chapter 14)?

13. Near the end of Chapter 16, Ray treats Christine to breakfast at a roadside restaurant. At the end of the meal, as Christine observes: "She opened her wallet and revealed a wad of cash, then, embarrassed, tried to stuff it back inside the pocket. A torn piece of notepaper dropped on the table and I retrieved it, afraid she hadn't seen. She took it from my hand, thought a minute, then crumpled it into the ashtray." What is this scrap of paper? Why does Ray immediately take it from Christine and then decide to discard it?

14. What symbolic import, if any, can you recognize in Christine's remark (at the end of Chapter 16): "The program was almost over. Just four songs left."

15. At the beginning of Chapter 17, Ida says: "I never grew up, but I got old." What do you think she means by this remark? Refer to scenes or dialogue from throughout the novel in support of your answer. Also, why does Ida add that she has "worn resentment like a medicine charm" for four decades?

16. In your own view, do the words and deeds of the nuns that Ida and Clara stay with in Denver (see Chapter 18) reflect or refract the novel's overall take on Catholicism? Explain.

17. Why do Ida's memories and impressions of both Pauline and Clara differ from the comparatively sketchy renderings of these two women that we find earlier in the novel? And how, if at all, were your views of Pauline and Clara altered by Ida's recollections?

18. Toward the end of Chapter 19, Ida rejects Willard Pretty Dog, the man she has been living with, taking care of, cooking for, and perhaps falling in love with -- the man she has had feelings for ever since childhood. "I didn't hate Willard," she says, "but I no longer wanted him." Why? How did this happen?

19. Why exactly does Ida require that everyone, even her own kids, call her Aunt Ida?

20. How would you characterize Ida's relationship with Father Hurlburt? What do they share? What rituals, secrets, and common experiences connect them as people? And how would you compare and contrast their relationship with that of Ray and Father Tom? Or that of Christine and Sister Alvina?

21. Look again at the last paragraph of this novel. How does Ida's description of "the rhythm of three strands [and] of braiding" echo the novel as a whole?

Questions and Exercises for the Class
1. How would you explain the title of this novel? Having read the book, what does the phrase "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water" suggest to you: literally, figuratively, and even symbolically or metaphorically?

2. As a class, explore both the function and influence of memory in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water -- especially memory as a key to the mysterious, lost, or forgotten aspects of the past. A famous philosopher once noted that while life must be lived forward, it can only be understood backward. Explain how that idea is or is not illustrated by this novel.

3. Before driving Ray and herself out to the reservation, Christine insists that they both visit a video-rental store. Why? What goal does Christine have in mind by making this visit? Also, what two movies does Christine eventually decide to rent? Why does she choose these two movies? As an outside project, watch both of these films, then write a short essay on what the films say to you personally, as well as what you think they would say or mean to Ray and Christine.

4. Discuss what this novel revealed to you about the cultures, beliefs, traditions, and experiences of Native Americans. What, if anything, did it show you about modern life on an Indian reservation, for example? Or what did it teach you about the recent history of Indians in the West and Pacific Northwest?

5. A few of the characters in this novel are preoccupied with certain aspects of popular culture, especially song lyrics, TV shows, and radio programs. Which characters are so preoccupied, and which songs and programs and such are most important to them? As a class, discuss why the characters in question are taken by these particular songs, shows, etc. What meanings do they attach to them -- and why do they do so?

6. Secrecy is a major theme in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. Indeed, the novel is rich in secrets. The book might even be understood as three separate yet related confessionals, a trio of overheard voices engaged mainly in sharing and revealing their secrets. But are there any secrets that remain unshared or unrevealed at novel's end? If so, what are they?

7. Three generations are profiled in this story: a granddaughter, a mother, and a grandmother. We encounter three women existing in very different if overlapping moments in American -- and Native American -- history. Discuss how, if at all, the novel informed you on the changing roles, rituals, duties, rights, and possibilities of women in the 20th century.

8. As noted above, this novel has three narrators, three distinct heroines who communicate their stories via the first-person (or "I") perspective. As an independent exercise, write an additional chapter for this novel in the first-person point of view of one of its secondary yet important characters -- be it Lee, Dayton, Elgin, Clara, Pauline, Papa, or another of your choosing. Try to capture the voice, personality, and outlook of the character you have chosen when composing your fourth perspective for A Yellow Raft in Blue Water. (Your extra chapter need not appear at the end of the story, and it need not read as a conclusion, sequel, or epilogue; rather, it can go wherever you want to put it. Be creative.)

9. Write an original, imaginative story -- on any topic you like -- in which multiple narrators are employed to tell and re-tell a (more or less) single tale from multiple perspectives. As author Michael Dorris does so movingly and convincingly in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, try to weave together or intertwine the events and ideas of your multiple narrators.

Suggestions for Further Reading
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a novel with many vital themes, including the realities and responsibilities of family life, mother-daughter love, coming of age (especially as a woman), the modern Native American (and, to a lesser degree, African American) experience, this country's perception of the Vietnam conflict and the 1960s, Catholic missionary work and its discontents, and so forth.

In recognition of such themes, teachers looking for profitable follow-up reading to Dorris's contemporary classic should consider the following: Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (edited by Miguel Algarin and Bob Holman); American Negro Poetry (edited by Arna Bontemps); Annie John (by Jamaica Kincaid); Betsey Brown (by Ntozake Shange); Black American Short Stories (edited by John Henrik Clarke); Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (by Dee Brown); Cloud Chamber and The Window (both by Michael Dorris, and both are novels featuring some of the characters appearing in A Yellow Raft in Blue Water); I Capture the Castle (by Dodie Smith); In the Trail of the Wind: American Indian Poems and Ritual Orations (edited by John Bierhorst); The Girl from Purple Mountain (by May-Lee Chai and Winberg Chai); My Brother (by Jamaica Kincaid); My Sisters' Voices (edited by Iris Jacob); On the Rez (by Ian Frazier); A Rumor of War (by Philip Caputo); Wit (by Margaret Edson); and Women of the Silk (by Gail Tsukiyama).

About the author:
Besides A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, which was the first book he published, other works of adult fiction by Michael Dorris include The Crown of Columbus (co-written with Louis Erdrich) and Working Men (a collection of short stories). Among Dorris's nonfiction works are Paper Trail (a collection of essays) and The Broken Chord (which won the National Book Critics Circle Award). Dorris is also the author of The Window, a novel for young adults. He died in 1997.

Scott Pitcock wrote this teacher's guide. He works in book publishing and lives in New York City.

Copyright 2003 by Holtzbrinck Publishers

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Three generations of women from the same family looking for love and acceptance. Each has their own unique way of dealing with life.

    It starts with the youngest persons life story and then works it's way back in generations.
    Rayona is a third generation Native American girl who never quite seems to fit in anywhere. Her father is a black man, her mother Indian. Her parents separate while Rayona is very young. Rayona is raised by her mother who likes to party and likes her men. We see life through the eyes of a teenager. Rayona is looking for love and acceptance but always seems to come up short. She does find one couple who takes her in and helps her find her way back home.
    Christine is Rayonas mother. She is a tough, good looking Indian woman that is up to any challenge a boy can throw at her. She seems to need to prove she can beat the boys. She also uses her looks to hook up with any man she pleases, even married ones. She does not feel guilty about what she does. Life on the reservation is difficult and Christine dreams of leaving. Christine is very fond of her brother Lee and their relationship is a close one. Christine moves off the reservation to Washington state. Christine lives the life of her choosing. Lee enlists in the army. Christine gets word that he is MIA. She meets an army man in a bar in Tacoma. The man comforts her and gives her hope that things will be alright for Lee. The army man is due to be discharged in two weeks, his name is Elgin. Christine and Elgin become intimate. One day at a park in Washington they create Rayona. Elgin says no baby of his will be born without the two of them being married. They marry but within a couple months after Rayona's birth Christine moves out. Out of sight does not always mean out of mind. Neither of them ever seems to get completely over the other one. An interesting story unfolds. Christine eventually leaves Washington and goes home to the reservation. There she leaves Rayona with Aunt Ida and walks away.
    Aunt Ida is an interesting character. She is mother to Christine and Lee but never lets them call her mother since she isn't married. Ida insists on being called Aunt Ida. We find out about Ida's life. We view her past and get the stories behind Christine and Lee and how they came to be in her life. She is a solitary figure that isn't overly warm. She speaks only Indian and keeps her conversations short.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    When I started this Book

    I wasn't entirely sure if it would be one that I would be able to finish, then again it was on my summer reading list, so I would have to put up with it if it got dull. But it didn't. It did the exact opposite. It got more interesting. Christine annoyed me from Rayona's point of view. And Aunt Ida annoyed me from both Rayona and Christine's point of view. But I think somewhere during her section (Aunt Ida's), I started to like her better. She had so much more to tell than either of her descendants, although they weren't as direct as we thought them to be.

    I'm so glad that I read this book. It taught me a lot about life. About longing for acceptance and understanding, a desire to fit in, a desire to find and experience true love. Although each theme seemed a tragedy in the book, ultimately, everything turned out fine. The relationships confused me slightly, though. But all in all, this is defiantly a book to read. If it's dull to you at first, just keep on reading it, it'll get better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2008

    Layers of meaning

    The novel and its overlying plot are readily accessible to readers. The underlying connections and lessons of life are easily overlooked by the younger reader, but the more mature readers will find great depth of meaning and life lessons. Perhaps the most important issue is that the characters and situations are more true to life than many readers would like to admit. Secrets lead to misunderstandings that alter the lives of the three main characters. A great read. My college students enjoy the reading and its interesting layers of meaning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    A Yellow Rafft In Blue Water

    A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is an engaging book, which leaves you wanting more you won¿t want to put the book down! This book is about three generations, ¿Aunt¿ Ida, the grandmother and mother who you can never figure out, who doesn¿t want to be known by not having a husband and especially doesn¿t want her daughter to carry that reputation, Christine the Native American mother in search of a better more exciting life off the reservation, and Rayona, the half black and Indian daughter, who spends the book in search of what she thinks, is ¿love¿ from herself and others. As this book goes back in time mysteries about why things are they way they are, are revealed. The story is very well written and both settings in Seattle and Montana are described in a detailed enough way, that you can picture each scene, without being there. By the end of your story you will be satisfied.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2006

    A wonderful tale told in three stories

    At first I cannot say I found this book good or interesting at all for that matter, but once I got into the characters I couldn¿t put it down. Yellow raft in blue water is about three characters told in three separate stories first Rayona a 15 year old girl dealing with the normal problems of being a teenager as well as her mom ¿Christine, leaving her with the mysterious ant Ida and being a mixed ethnicity in a all Indian reservation. Than Christine: the connector of the stories. About all the problems she had, most of them having something to do with her brother lee or Aunt Ida. Than finely ending with Aunt Ida I won¿t say any thing about this except that it was the most interesting and even more surprising part for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2006

    It's a love - hate thing for me

    Yellow raft in blue water is the story of there women who change because of each other. Rayona the half-black half-indian teen that isn¿t comfortable in her own skin. Christine is Rayona¿s mother a woman who lives a life that she can¿t afford and her health can¿t bear and Ida, Christine¿ mother is a hard cold woman hiding a huge secret. Michael Doris has shown you the characters incredibly well. They are imagintitive and complex, they seem like really people, and you can sort of get in their head. The problem is that it takes a long time to ¿get inside¿ their head. Michael Doris always clearly tells you what they are thinking, but until the middle or close to the end of each part (the story is in three parts each one through the eyes of a different one of the characters) their thoughts just aren¿t that interesting to read about. The other thing is that what they think makes the characters just plain unlikable through out the whole book. Rayona can be bland and submissive, Christine can¿t control her emotions and has a `don¿t-care¿ attitude that really bothered me, Ida is so harsh and negative that even when you hear her side of the story you still don¿t like her that much. I¿m not really the type of person who enjoys books where there isn¿t at least one person who you really like and can feel sorry or happy for. For some people though this is the perfect book. So if you like deep, thought-out, intense characters even they if aren¿t really likeable and a long plot it¿s the right kind of book for you. Because the book is in three parts it hard to know who the main character is. Is it Ida who influences every thing that happens to Christine and Rayona, but not that much happens to her herself? Or Christine, who gets both Ida and Rayona affecting her, but also had her own story to tell? Or Finally Rayona the youngest character who hasn¿t really had that much happen to her yet, but when it had its¿ been dramatic? Each person who reads this book had a different character that they thought was the main or that they liked the most, but you can¿t really decide until you have finished the whole thing. I found that at first I thought Rayona was the main girl and the most likeable, really just because her story is part number one in the book. Then I decided that she was too submissive, quiet, and even a little bit boring so I switched to Christine. Then I felt sorry for Ida, but when I had read them all and was done with that I would have to say that I think Christine is that ¿protagonist¿. She has both Rayona and Ida pushing her in different ways and influencing her, but she still had her own separate story to tell. Also she really shows the clearest changes from beginning to end, making her in my mind the most likeable. It is undoubtedly a good book, but it¿s not really a page turner, stay up late to finish type read. So it¿s not the book for me, but I¿m sure that for some people this is exactly the book for them so don¿t let my opinions stop you from reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2006

    It's an o.k book.

    Everyone may have their own opinions about the book, but I have found the book to be very boring and confusing. For me to enjoy a book it would have to really capture me in the beginning and this book failed to do so.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    My Favorite Book of All Time!

    I read this book in high school and my entire class loved it. As an English major I have read many books, but still this book remains to be my favorite. I've picked it up recently to read it again and found that it was even more captivating the second time around. I did not think that the book was disgusting. I felt that those portions of the book were necessary and were put there to simply portray some of the ugliness that can occur in society today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2005

    I Loved This Book!!

    Yellow Raft in Blue Water is one of favortie books. I thought that it was cool how Dorris wrote about Rayona, Christine, and Aunt Ida. I did not think that it was disgusting or dirty. I love this book and would recommend it to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2005

    Required reading... stupid, dirty book

    I really got tired of all the sex and cussing. I understand that that's art, but I never would have read this book had it not been required for my honors English class at school. I couldn't stand it... it was disgusting. I hated it. Books should seriously come with ratings on the back... I'm sick of buying books and finding out that I might as well just go see an 'R' rated movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    a favorite revisited

    I first read this book in high school and recently picked it up again. I was riveted by it then, and am riveted again, 10 years later. Rayona is very likable and easy to connect with. It is such a truthful book in that our problems are not only ours, but will be carried down through the generations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2004

    don't give up

    Have you ever had someone in your life that hurt you and you couldn't forgive? Trying reading this book and find out what Rayona did when her mother chose her beer and partying over her daughter. If you have ever went through a part in your life that you felt like no one cared and you didn't know what to do Rayona will let you know.This book has helped me to not give up hope of my daughter and her dad ever bonding because they will some day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2003

    a good read

    Personally I enjoyed reading this book. The story takes place on an Indian reservation in Montana. There are three perspectives that are narrated by each main character how their lives are enter twined with each other and how they seem to not want to have anything to do with each other and return to the reservation to find their lives are together there. I recommend this book to all readers, rather for fun or for a book report.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2002

    The book that caught many eyes

    Great book. Recommended for all young adults.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2002

    Terrible...DON'T READ IT!

    Although a lot of these reviews say it's great...this is one of the worst books I have EVER read...and that's saying something. I read at least a book a week, so to say that this is one of the worst is bad. I had to read this for an English project and my partners could also barely get through it..It tells you the story from three different points of view, yet the story keeps getting worse and worse each time. It's about a family who has almost nothing right in their life...but it just keeps getting worse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2001

    One of my favorite books!

    I picked up this book one summer while on vacation, and couldn't put it down. Michael Dorris skillfully weaves together the stories of Rayona, Christine, and Aunt Ida, three strong women whose differences often cause conflict. As the women's individual stories unfold, Dorris shows us that things aren't always as they seem to be. This is a very powerful book, and I recommend it highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2001

    Follow The Leader

    A summer reading english project led me to 'A yellow raft...'. All my relatives sortof circled around me chanting in unison 'I loved it' 'it was amazing' 'I loved it' etc. Alright, maybe they didn't, but I heard that so much they might as well had. I ended up following their lead and reading the book, looking forward to an amazing novel, and that's what I got. although some parts were confusing, or strange, the overall book was gripping, inspiring and exteremely entertaining! 'I loved it'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2001

    Good Book

    I had to read this novel over the summer as a school assignment. I automatically assumed it was going to be boring because of this. Let me say that the blurb on the back of the book does not do it any justice. I definately proved myself wrong, and thoroughally enjoyed this novel. The story evolves as it moves up through three generations, begining with Rayona, then her mother, then her Aunt Ida. 'Ida' is the best part!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2001

    A wonderful inspiring story

    Like so many books of this genre, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water makes you laugh, cry and grow to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each character. I would recommend that anyone read this book, in fact, I'd recommend that you read it twice! :-)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2000

    An inspiring tale of three indpendent women, moving, and excellently written

    the best book I have ever read!! if you haven't read it... my advise is to go to the bookstore and get your own copy before they run out!!

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