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The Basket Maker
by Kate Niles

Category: Fiction / General
224 pages; ISBN: 0974207403

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Basket Maker
Kate Niles
GreyCore, May 2004, $22.95, 224 pp.
ISBN: 0974207403

Though her parents are professors with PhDs, the family moves a lot as finding work is not easy even with their credentials in the early 1970s. Their current residence in Colorado forces ten-year-old Sarah to share a room with her younger brother Ricky. Since they never stay in one place for very long, the kids have no friends. While their mom mostly ignores them, their father shows abnormal interest in Sarah including raping her. Ricky, not understanding the abuse his sibling surfers, envies her to the point he hates her.

Sarah discovers the skeletal remains of an Indian near her new home. She soon talks to bones that turn out to be Ute Chief Ouray, who died in 1880 and he remains behind because of bitter grudges against people long dead. Sarah even makes a friend, Trent, who was recently severely burned in an accident. Slowly, the group that will try to save her emerges as people with low esteem befriend the lonely child. Soon Trent’s mom, an elderly widow, and Ouray realize what Sarah suffers at home and though feeling unworthy of taking on her cause, intervene anyway.

The fabulous Sarah serves as the focus of this deep character study in which more than just the protagonist is psychologically opened up to the audience. The members of the save Sarah squad reveals their respective beliefs of inadequacy yet courageously confronts her parents. Ironically with all this soul-baring, Sarah’s father is stereotyped so that the audience never quite sees him beyond one dimensional negative attributes. Still, this social commentary ghost story is an intriguing look at the impact of incestuous sexual abuse on the victim and the family.

Harriet Klausner


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