Author: Joe Starita
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: An incredible and engaging story, although written a bit simply.
Susan La Flesche was the first Native American to become a doctor, at a time when any female doctors were rare. She overcome many obstacles and made difficult personal sacrifices to serve her people. Her level of community involvement while in school and while serving as a doctor was almost unbelievable. She led a fascinating and inspiring life.
As you can tell from my gushing summary, I was blown away by Susan La Flesche’s accomplishments. She really was an inspiration to read about! The author did a great job bringing her story to life. He won me over at the beginning by explaining that he was drawing on a large collection of primary documents (mostly letters written by Susan) whenever he speculated about her thoughts or emotions. I love when authors of narrative nonfiction employ this technique to add emotion to a story while remaining as factual as possible. I do wish he had also addressed his choice to use the identifier “Indian” instead of “Native American” throughout. Personally, I found it inappropriate and inaccurate, at least when used by the author and not in a direct quote.
My only other complaint could actually be a strength as well and that is that I found the writing somewhat simplistic. I felt as though I was reading a book intended for a younger audience. The reason that’s also a good thing is that I would definitely recommend this book to any high school or middle school girls. It’s approachable, as well as inspiring. There were a few other little problems with the writing that may be due to the fact that I had an ARC. I feel they’re worth mentioning though, because they go beyond the problems I usually see in a review copy. Not only were there several paragraphs repeated verbatim (which I’m positive will be fixed), there were sections where the text was different but the content was repetitive. I’m less confident this second problem will be fixed. Speculation aside, I am giving away a review copy (with thanks to St Martin’s!), so I would recommend only entering to win if, like me, you won’t be too bothered by a few typos to enjoy an otherwise good book.
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