A Native American woman’s search for the beauty of music and her culture.
Grace grew up on the Pine Ridge in South Dakota in great poverty. She’s got a rock ’n’ roll past that nearly killed her (“If I wasn’t drinking it or snorting it, I was popping it. Finally I got ’round to injecting it….”), and she’s a single mom. She sings with her band on weekends at a bar and takes care of her son, Jamie, who has drug-related birth defects. Jamie and Grace begin to write songs, along with her band, which work magic on their listeners. They discover that the songs’ mystical elements come from Grace’s Lakota ancestry, from the power that Grace’s great-great-great-grandfather, Eyes That Cut, had as a song catcher. As Grace’s band—a fun bunch that includes a rowdy lead guitarist—explodes in popularity, they use their transformational melodies (via flute, harmonica, guitar, vocals) to fight the capitalist developers who are in possession of Lakota sacred land. The music also begins to transform Grace herself, who had lost her culture. The book, via the band members’ stories, educates readers about Lakota culture, music production and, ultimately, the power of art to unite. There are, however, some problems. The characters could be more sharply drawn; the narrative, which emphasizes adventure over inner struggle, sketches their individual histories but doesn’t give all of them enough psychological background. There’s also the problem of a somewhat simplistic plotline, but these drawbacks don’t sink an otherwise engaging novel.
Full of adventure, Lakota culture and music—a worthwhile tale.