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The Education of Ruby Loonfoot
by Paxton Riddle

Category: Fiction / Historical
340 pages; ISBN: 0786244372

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

By 1957, Indian elders worry about what is happening to their traditions and customs. The “second generation” is so Americanized that even the elders wonder if they are really their offspring. Cecilia Pitwoniqut frets over how she went wrong with her daughter Theresa who attended boarding schools that washed out the paganism and replaced it with consumed Catholicism. Now her granddaughter Ruby Loonfoot attends the “Robe’s School and Cecilia vows never again.

Cecilia wants Ruby to rejoice in her culture. However, the St. Nicholas School believes that the worthless Indian pagan religion must be stamped out and be replaced by the embracing of Jesus. Not only is Ruby’s heritage demeaned, she is also physically abused for challenging the Robes. Now Cecilia and Theresa are at war over Ruby’s education, as her grandmother wants her to be proud of being an Indian while her mother believes Jesus comes first.

Readers will want to believe that this novel is purely the imagination of Paxton Riddle, but apparently the horrors that that author describes actually occurred. The story line engages the audience with the heated generation gap while the assimilation process erodes much of the tradition. Even more enlightening is the treatment at the Catholic School that will shake up even the most faithful. This is a powerful, well written novel that will shock most readers with its deep evocative spotlight on a systematic brainwashing that is truly The Education of Readers.

Harriet Klausner

 

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