by Forest Carter
A memoir-style fictional novel, first published in 1976, about a Cherokee Indian orphaned as a young boy and raised by his grandparents in the Appalachian mountains during the Depression. "Little Tree," as his grandparents call him, learns all he needs to know about life through Indian traditions and simple mountain living. The grandparents are eventually forced by the state to send Little Tree to an orphanage, where he encounters prejudice and loneliness.
Much controversy surrounds the author, Forrest Carter, purported to have been active in White supremacist organizations, and his claim that the book is based on childhood memories of his Cherokee uncle; when in fact his brother says there are no American Indian members in his family. The controversy includes racism and the author's intentions, stereotyping of characters in the book, as well as inaccuracies of the Cherokee language and culture.
I love books like this, the kind that really make you think and that touch your heart and stay with you long after you finish them. The sentences, though short, are powerful and meaningful, the kind you want to re-read because they really "packed a punch." Mmmm, love sentences like that.
I wish I had known about all the controversy before I read the book. I would have read it in a whole new light. But maybe it's better that I didn't? This would have been a re-read for me anyway, because I enjoyed it that much, but because of what I know now about the author and all the hoopla, I'll definitely read it again while keeping all of that in mind. Makes it even more interesting!
Thanks to my friend Karen B. for recommending this book.