A YELLOW RAFT IN BLUE WATER by Michael Dorris

A YELLOW RAFT IN BLUE WATER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three American Indian women stand in the focused light of this first novel, and turmoil is their portion. First introduced is teen-aged Rayona, whose mother Christine is dying of too much drinking and high living; Rayona is more or less dropped by the wayside to fend for herself around the environs of Seattle and the Montana reservation of her birth. She is plucky (she enters an amateur rodeo as a boy) but stunned, searching for a stability of affection she never quite finds. With her mother Christine, it's been another story: affection came to her almost too much, and, nearly buried beneath it, she self-destructs, in her illness finally returning to the reservation to be cared for by her brother Lee (until his death) and her mother Aunt Ida. Mother Aunt Ida? The last part of the book--and the best--tells the story of how a young Indian girl, Ida, assumed (through coercion) the child born of an aunt (who'd come to nurse her sister through illness and stayed to bear her brother-in-law's child: Christine). It's only here that Dorris' narrative decision--to telescope the story, un. fold family secrets but backwards--bears fruit; a reader in the meantime has had to absorb a lot of hints and feints about relationships never truly clear. Much serrated detail (some not very original, some striking) but no binder--and ultimately a book weakened by its postponement, just a bit too coy.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1987
Publisher: Henry Holt