Over the nine-year period that this coming-of-age novel spans, Ipa-tah-chi illustrates the unyielding determination to overcome perpetual hardship, first as an orphan and then as a slave of the Spaniards. Captured by the Spanish conquistadors at age 14, only moments before she was to marry her beloved Coyomo, Ipa and her younger brother, Kadoh, are forcibly taken to the silver mines in Mexico to work. It is against this backdrop that Ipa's growth and maturity occur. She overcomes the deaths of her grandmother, father, cousin, and uncle, and watches Kadoh descend slowly into insanity as a slave for the ruthless Juan Diestro, a foreman in the silver mines. However, Ipa's life in bondage is tempered by the love, kindness, and sensitivity of the Spaniard, Rodrigo. Garland weaves some historical facts into this mostly fictional work to create an intriguing, fast-moving plot with complex and believable characters. Set in the 1500s in southwestern United States and in Mexico, the novel touches on a variety of issues including love, marriage, endurance, perseverance, jealousy, oppression, sacrifice, the struggle of adapting to a different culture, rape, abuse, death, pragmatism, strength, and courage. The novel will appeal to readers from junior high to high school.
The ALAN Review - Sati Maharaj-Boggs
When Ipa was ten, Apache raiders attacked her small, peaceful pueblo in what is now Southwest Texas, killing her Grandmother and abducting her older brother. Four years later, during her wedding ceremony to a neighboring cacique's handsome son, Spaniards attack, and take Ipa, her younger brother and a girl cousin as slaves to work in the mines and missions farther south, in Mexico. How Ipa learns to live with the Spanish, and eventually manage to escape back to her own people, makes for a riveting tale filled with adventure, romance and skillfully interwoven information on how a little known Native American group was partly destroyed and partly assimilated into Mexican culture in the 1500s. An author's note provides interesting background information. Some violent events, including rape and murder, make the novel most suitable for young adults.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
Gr 7-10As the author acknowledges in her notes, she has condensed about 100 years of history into a very short time period. Through the life of Ipa, a girl of the pueblo society, the culture of the Jumanos unfolds. Ipa and her fellow villagers are peaceful, river farmers living near the Rio Grande in western Texas in the 1500s. With the arrival of the Spanish explorers and, soon after, the slavers, the destruction of her people's lifestyle begins. The first encounter is peaceful, and Ipa is actually fascinated by and attracted to Rodrigo, who treats her and her younger brother, Kadoh, with kindness and affection. However, when the slavers arrive, Ipa, Kadoh, and Xucate, her strong-willed and beautiful cousin, are taken from their homes. Ipa, who is skilled in the uses of herbal medicine, is protected by the padres at the mission. Xucate is not so fortunate. Given to the brutal overseer at the silver mine, she is repeatedly beaten and assaulted. When she becomes pregnant, she escapes with Ipa's help, only to die in childbirth. Ipa takes the child and goes back to what is left of her village. Eventually Rodrigo finds her again and asks her to marry him. Ipa agrees and begins her journey to a new life in Mexico City. Although the historical details are effectively woven throughout this well-paced story, the character development lacks depth and subtlety and resembles an old Hollywood movie in which the good are good, the bad are bad, and an upbeat ending is a prerequisite. Ipa, in particular, is a disappointment. Although her people have been brutalized and destroyed, she remains a perennial innocent and seems fundamentally unscathed by the tragedy that has engulfed everyone else. She is just too submissive and naive and could use a ``reality check.''Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA