A hybrid work combines a tale about a girl sold into slavery and an account of a young woman— the author—who becomes a physician.
This sequel from Moore (Between Two Minds, 2012) sets up an intertwined pair of narratives, one fiction and the other nonfiction. The nonfiction storyline involves the author herself and relates her life story, from growing up in various places—including Lincoln, Nebraska, and Montgomery, Alabama—to getting married, having children, and attending medical school. The fictional narrative tells the tale of a young Hopi girl named Talking Bird and her brother, Little Fox, who are kidnapped by Mexican slave traders and befriended by a kindly Franciscan called Padre Diego. The two are given Christian names—Rosita and Carlitos—and they are eventually sold to a wealthy pueblo merchant. Along the way, the siblings encounter many people telling them wondrous stories of many faiths, including a well-traveled missionary named Padre Bachelot (who explains the spiritual beliefs of the natives of Hawaii) and, much later, a man who informs an older, married Rosa about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this work, Moore does two things equally well. Through the experiences of Rosa, she crafts a detailed historical-novel-within-a-memoir about the early settler history of California and the events of the character’s life there. And the author uses her own story to illustrate lessons she’s learned in a career of practicing medicine and thinking about life. Some of these lessons are debatable, as when she asserts that “the deepest, most harmful war is within our own minds.” But others, although commonplace, are worth remembering: “Change is often scary, but change is part of life and necessary for growth.” The dual narrative choice can often be distracting because the work does only the thinnest of jobs connecting the two. But each separate thread is intriguing on its own merits, and both share an open-minded attitude toward the twists and turns of fate.
A split-focus but readable account of learning and growing in the midst of life’s changes.