Perma Red

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9780399148996: Perma Red

Louise White Elk dreams of both belonging and escape, and of discovering love and freedom on her own terms. But she is a red-haired, tough, and beautiful temptation, and at least three men, each more dangerous than the other, want to control and possess her: Police Officer Charlie Kicking Woman, who struggles between worlds; charismatic but scary Baptiste, who refuses to yield to anyone; and Harvey Stoner, who owns nearly everything.

On the reservation, danger looms everywhere, rising out of fear and anger, deprivation, hunger, and poverty. But just as often for Louise, and for those she loves, danger arises from longing and desire. And from making a choice.

Perma Red is a love-crossed saga about a young woman coming of age under perilous circumstances, and about the consequences of her often contradictory desires. In this breathtaking tale of the American West, a tragic love story unfolds against a classic clash of cultures.

In the tradition of Michael Dorris's Yellow Raft in Blue Water and the novels of Louise Erdrich, Perma Red is an enthralling, devastating debut by a commanding new voice.

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About the Author:

Debra Magpie Earling is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* "When Louise White Elk was nine, Baptiste Yellow Knife blew a fine powder in her face and told her she would disappear." So begins a love story of uncommon depth and power, a love story that is as painful as it is transcendent, a love story in which the lovers, like Birkin and Ursula in Lawrence's Women in Love, are unwilling to diminish themselves in the act of joining together but are equally unable to turn away. Set in the years following World War II on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, Earling's superb first novel throws two indomitable characters together in a tightly circumscribed world and gives them free rein to bang into the furniture and each other. A fiery mix of tantalizing contradictions, Louise is a red-haired temptress who yearns to escape the reservation and to experience every kind of freedom on the menu, but she can't avoid her magnetic attraction to Yellow Knife, whose devotion to the old ways and whose shaman-like intensity threaten to shackle Louise even as they offer their own kind of liberation. As they spar with each other--and with Charlie Kicking Woman, a tribal police officer also under Louise's spell--the lovers face both threats and temptations from the white world outside the reservation. Coming-of-age novels set on reservations are a rich part of contemporary literature, of course, and Earling's effort fits securely into the tradition of Welch, Erdrich, and others, but it stands on its own just fine. The Lawrentian psychodrama that emerges from the Louise-Baptiste relationship gives the novel a richness that transcends the story's time and place but that, simultaneously, brings the larger theme of cultural clash into even sharper focus. Let's hope we hear much more from Earling, who is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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