Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The Education of Little Tree
I didn't expect to like The Education of Little Tree too much. I don't like nature books and any jacket copy that says a book will change my life makes me get huffy and think, "What on earth makes you think I would like my life changed?" However, it was lovely. Funny, sad, full of life lessons - it was a life-changer, if you are the sort of person who goes in for that kind of thing.
The story is about a young boy who loses his parents and goes to live with his Cherokee grandparents during the Depression. There are stories of dogs and Indian history and how to make whisky and orphanages. It is well worth reading.
I don't recall having read many books about nature or living in harmony or grandparents or making whisky. There are a million and twelve books about losing parents. Which leaves me with books about Native Americans. My favorite book by an Indian writer is The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie which is a series of short stories part of which was made into a great movie called Smoke Signals. I also loved The Bean Trees and it's sequel Pigs in Heaven which tell the story of a young woman who finds an Indian baby and the family that they become.
Now don't read any further until you have finished the book.
Okay here is the thing; there is some controversy about The Education of Little Tree. If you want to click the link there is a well documented article the gist of which is that this book is in no way autobiographical. Forrest Carter was a segregationist and a leader in the Ku Klux Klan who wrote extensively about the superiority of the white race. Does this make Little Tree a bad book? I don't know. I really liked it and I am glad that I read it before I knew this. I think that it would have diminished my enjoyment a great deal if I had known. (See my soon-to-be-written posting on Alice in Wonderland for more discussion on this topic.)