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A Native American adolescent in rural Colorado dreams of a life beyond the weary grind of her small town.

Teacher and poet Wurth (Creative Writing/Western Illinois Univ.; Indian Trains, 2007) infuses her debut novel with impassioned teen spirit, but the pedestrian nature of the challenges it presents to its tough narrator leaves something to be desired. Sixteen-year-old Margaritte is Native American on her mother’s side, white on her father's, and all kinds of pissed off about her lot in life. Between going to high school, working a drab job as a waitress, selling weed with her cousin Jake, and dealing with her alcoholic father and her mother’s denial, the kid has a lot of angst on her plate. She gets quite dreamy when she starts sleeping with a new boyfriend named Mike, a coke-addled jackass who cheats on her with one of her friends. As happens, Margaritte turns up pregnant, which is a bit clichéd for a character who gets stabbed in the first chapter during a drug deal. “I want to…I don’t know what I want!” shouts Margaritte at her boyfriend. “I don’t want to be a teenage mother! Another fucking Indian statistic. I don’t want my mother’s life.” The rest of the story trails out in kind of extreme ways. Margaritte's cousin Jake is arrested when he assaults Mike in the hospital after an overdose. Margaritte is nearly killed when her father drunkenly runs the family into a ditch during an argument. There’s supposed to be some will-she-or-won’t-she tension over whether Margaritte will have an abortion, which feels like it came straight out of a freshman creative writing class. Margaritte has an interesting voice, and Wurth gives the environment a gritty patina, but there’s not enough of an emotional arc to warrant the drama here.

An unsentimental but ultimately unconvincing play about an Indian girl navigating the teenage wasteland.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-940430-43-0
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Curbside Splendor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2014


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