December 11, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: My Name Is Not Easy (Audio)

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Audiobook cover: Eskimo boy writing title on foggy glassMy Name Is Not Easy. By Debby Dahl Edwardson. 6 CDs. 6:30 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2012. ISBN 978-1-4558-7955-7. $64.97.
Gr 7 Up–In the early 1960s, children from Iñupiaq, Athabaskan, and Caucasian backgrounds are enrolled at a Catholic boarding school in Alaska in Debby Dahl Edwardson’s National Book Award finalist (Marshall Cavendish, 2011). Luke (white people can’t pronounce his Iñupiaq name) and his brothers Bunna and Isaac are flown to Catholic sponsored Sacred Heart School far from their village. Six-year-old Isaac is too young to be enrolled in the school, so he’s put into foster care without his family’s consent. Thus begins the brothers’ struggles central to this compelling story. Racial tensions between Eskimo (sic), Indian, and white students percolate at the school, which advocates assimilation. The brothers as well as students Amiq, Chickie, and Junior describe their efforts to adjust, convincingly voiced by Nick Podehl and Amy Rubinate. Meanwhile, the world outside is tumultuous. President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, nuclear testing along the Alaskan coast, radioactive exposure, aboriginal hunting rights being invalidated, and forced adoption swirl like a cold Alaskan wind. The cadence of the dialogue is accurate, and some profanity is used. Edwardson presents profound historical events but artfully refrains from moralizing. An excellent look at an important part of history that is usually not covered in conventional high school history sources.–Robin Levin, Fort Washakie School/Community Library, WY