DELUGE by Albertine Strong


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 An unexceptional if appealing debut in which a part-Chippewa woman recounts the experiences of three generations of her family. Aja shares with grandfather Peke a susceptibility to the Trickster, Wenebojo, who, according to legend, appears during deluges to play pranks and cause trouble. The story begins back near the turn of the century, when Peke, taking the train to college, finds himself in a dispute over a card game. He's thrown off a bridge into pouring rain, and Isabel, the Swedish girl who rescues him, becomes his wife. Years later, their coolly glamorous daughter Nina runs away to St. Paul, where Roy, a handsome Chippewa pilot, catches her eye. Their hopes for a better life are dashed, however, when Roy goes off to the Japanese front and comes home traumatized, refusing to be parted from his parachute; meanwhile, Nina can gain entrance to the big houses she dreams of only by working as a cleaning woman. After Roy is sent to Korea, Nina takes their daughter, Aja, back to the reservation in Minnesota, where she grows up ashamed of her background. She also resents the attention given to her brilliant but difficult brother Jerry, and she fights with her father's sister, Betty, who runs a roadside diner that for Aja represents embarrassing reservation backwardness. Trying to escape, she attends Dartmouth, only to find herself disgusted by her patrician classmates and lured into a stormy marriage with a boy from back home. The birth of a child, the death of her grandmother, and her decision to open a school for Chippewa children eventually enable Aja to come to terms with her heritage, and, taking pleasure in the traditional stories Peke taught her as a child, she shares her culture with the Jewish lawyer who becomes her second husband. While Strong adds few fresh touches to this standard intergenerational saga, her graceful prose and affection for Chippewa lore make for a lively, involving tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-517-70621-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997