JEMMY by Jon Hassler


Email this review


Gemstone Opal Stott--17 and half-Chippewa--is told by her alcoholic Irish father to quit school to care for her motherless younger brother and sister. Since most Indians leave school much younger, Jemmy has few misgivings. And, though she muses about being ""two half persons,"" she definitely feels more Indian than white in a school whose (white) principal equates ill-fitting clothes and poverty with a lack of response to the precepts taught in health class. Then, providentially, she meets artist Otis Chapman and his wife Ann during a blizzard; he asks her to pose for his Minneapolis mural of the Maiden of Eagle Rock, a local legend; and through this contact with the wider world, she comes to an understanding of her own artistic talents and the extent to which she can influence her own life. Hassler's ironic description of the rural Minnesota scene (site also of Four Miles to Pinecone, 1977)--where Indians make whites feel uncomfortable--demonstrates that he knows the territory; and in contrast to the bright flashes and shadows of the people around her, Jemmy gives off a warm, steady glow. Evocative and low-key.

Pub Date: March 13th, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum