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SILENT WORDS

Slipperjack, Ruby
Saskatoon (Sask.), Fifth House Publishers, 1992, 250pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-920079-93-8. CIP


Grades 7 to 9/Ages 12 to 14

Reviewed by S.A. McLennan McCue

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


This is Ruby Slipperjack's second novel and, like her first, Honour the Sun, it is readable and interesting for people of all ages. An Ojibway boy runs away from an abusive home. The book chronicles his journey. Along the way he meets many people, whose generosity and willingness to share whatever they have, however little that may be, are both heart-warming and telling.

The book takes place in the 1960s and Danny Lynx's travel is centered on the railroad, which was all that linked the small northern Ontario settlement at that time. The author captures Danny's deep fear of returning to life in the violent environment from which he ran. The book's language is simple and appropriate for both the story-teller and the subject matter. Non-Natives will learn something of Ojibway life during those years when the people were still sufficiently isolated to hold onto many of their traditions. This book complements Madeleine Katt Theriault's autobiography Moose to Moccasins because Theriault and her family would have been like any one of the individuals/families Danny meets in his travels. If there is a down side to this book it is in the final two chapters, where everything happens too fast to be easily believable.

This book is highly recommended for any library with aboriginal readers but it is also recommended as suitable reading for people with an interest in knowing more about aboriginal life, not as it is seen in the romantic Hollywood view, but as it was lived.


S.A. McLennan McCue, formerly the Library Services Consultant for the Cree School Board of James Bay in Chisasibi, Quebec, now lives in Ottawa, Ontario
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