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Acclaimed author Joseph Bruchac makes his Scholastic Press debut with a powerful story of family and identity.
11-yr-old Sonny lives with his mother and father up near the Canadian border. Theirs isn’t a peaceful household, given his father Jake’s sudden rages, which can turn physical in an instant. Sonny’s refuge is his mother, and his uncle Louis, a quiet, wise old man who seems to always appear when Sonny and his mother need help most. Jake hates when Louis comes around, but luckily he works long hours at the nearby paper mill. Through an unexpected friendship with a new school librarian, Sonny gains enough confidence to stand up to his his father, and to finally confront (cont'd)
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Grade 5-9-Small for his 11 years and the last picked for playground games, Harold doesn't much care that he's friendless. His mother is also a loner; his father works at the paper mill and everything about his job makes him angry--chemicals spilling into the Hudson, the gnashing cogs of machine Number Three that will rip off a limb if you're not careful, and the double shifts that never bring in enough money. Life is hard in this upstate New York town during the early 1960s. Harold knows that his family has secrets; some are too threatening to make sense of while his mother tries to hide others. Uncle Louis visits mostly while his father is at work, showing Harold the wonders of this Adirondack wilderness. Bruchac's story takes its roots in the 1930s Native American sterilization program known as the Vermont Eugenics Program. This chilling reality haunted the Abenaki people, threatened their annihilation, and drove them into hiding for three decades. As Harold learns near the end of the story, his family, victims of that program, escaped to New York and claimed a French heritage. "Uncle Louis" is actually his mother's father. This purposeful but discerning book will prompt discussion and further research into the plight of the Native people from the Green Mountain State. Yet within this historical framework of the shameful deeds of man, pride and integrity hold the family together.--Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
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