1. What is the book?
Calling for a Blanket Dance
2. Who wrote it?
3. What is it about?
Blanket dances are performed at some tribal Pow Wows as a way to collect funds to aid traveling people and groups onward to the next Pow Wow or back home. This novel can be seen as a blanket dance for one character, Ever. Each chapter can be interpreted as a contribution by family members both close and estranged, chosen and fated, to sustain Ever on his life’s journey home.
4. Why did I read it?
Some of my favorite novels have been written by Native American/tribal authors, including Leslie Marmon Silko’s Gardens in the Dunes, which talked thematically about the Ghost Dance, an important event in the lore of several tribes. Knowing nothing about blanket dances and having this information in reserve, I was curious if there were going to be any similarities between the two dances.
Alas, they are as different as the individual tribes that make up the monolithic moniker “Native American.” Calling for a Blanket Dance does what I hoped it would; it lifts the veil of homogeneity and challenges easy tropes, sharing snapshots of the humanity of this tribal people.
5. What do I think?
This book is a fine example of presenting a flawed and admirable protagonist, Ever, his story told through the voices of those who know him best. It celebrates his endurance through difficulties he experiences, directly and indirectly, from infancy. More than that, coming from an outsider’s perspective such as mine, it showcases the multifaceted complexities of a multicultural, mestizo people in the Mexican American, Kiowan, and Cherokee communities in Oklahoma in such a way that the many characters’ humanity makes them seem like family to myself.
Familiar situations are given poignancy when experienced by the people who orbit Ever’s life across five decades. In one chapter from his grandfather Vincent’s perspective, Vincent tries to make amends with estranged family members, particularly his young grandsons, by instilling pride in their Kiowan heritage and culture. Another voice, Ever’s sister Yolanda, struggles with how best to address the knowledge she acquires of Ever’s new bride, Lonnie, being unfaithful and developing a drug addiction while Ever is serving in the military. Perhaps one of the most poignant turns the novel takes is when Leander is introduced. He is a troubled child who is given guidance and stability by Ever, due in part to Ever’s own history with familial instability and the anger and confusion it produces. Ever’s connection to Leander grows roots as he eventually adopts Leander as one of his children.
You can place a hold on your copy of the book by clicking on the cover below:
Hello! My name is Tom, and I am a librarian here at the Niagara Falls Public Library. Welcome to a recurring blog post that comes out the 5th of every month, where I answer five questions about a book in our collection.