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Geronimo

by Joseph Bruchac

School Library Journal: Gr 5-10–Starting in 1886 with Geronimo's final surrender, this novel is told from the perspective of his adopted grandson Little Foot, and follows the Chiricahua Apaches from their home in Arizona to Florida. At Fort Marion, the group dwindles, losing children to the Carlisle Indian School, where those who contract tuberculosis are sent home to die and spread the disease. Little Foot escapes this fate and eventually joins the U.S. Infantry. Bruchac's narrative meanders and shifts, but he sprinkles the trail with excitement and humor. Little Foot himself points out, “I know that most White Eyes readers are less patient than Indians and prefer short stories that are easy to understand,” and some young people will find this one difficult. But fans of history, or of themes of survival and freedom, will find it fascinating–and certainly different from other fare about the man. The fictional Little Foot affords Bruchac the perfect point of view to observe and interpret Geronimo's life, explaining where the history books got it wrong, and offering insights that won't be found there. There is not enough explanation about how Bruchac constructed his story from his sources (listed at the end). Nonetheless, as the author develops a compelling picture of a people driven by universal and recognizable motives, readers may find this story more persuasive than the nonfiction sources available in most libraries.–Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA

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