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Willaful Review: But That Was Yesterday

My read for SuperWendy’s “New To You Author” TBR challenge is also a big step out of my comfort zone. My associations with “Native American” romance are so bad, I wouldn’t even have owned But That Was Yesterday, if it weren’t part of an anthology. But I happened to read the author’s note about alcoholism and stereotyping, and was intrigued enough to give it a try. This new to me author may well be my next glom, because it’s one terrific book.

The main characters are Sage Parker, a Lakota alcoholic who’s trying to rebuild the life he pissed away through drinking, and Megan McBride, a white engineer who works with him on a road project. When Megan asks Sage for help in dealing with another Indian whose drinking is interfering with work, Sage sums Megan up quickly — and accurately — as a well-meaning bleeding heart, with no genuine understanding whatsoever of what it means to be Indian or alcoholic.

“He saw through her. She was a caretaker, a do-gooder, pure and simple. That was the characteristic that drew them to one another, and the one he had to avoid.

Still, he wondered what she had seen when she looked at him through a woman’s eyes.”

Despite frequent clashes over her naivete and interference, Megan and Sage develop a friendship and Sage begins to share some of his personal identity with her. This was my favorite part of the book: I thought the portrait of Sage was wonderful, because he’s neither completely Americanized nor mystically “other” — rather, he’s a believable person whose personality includes elements from both of the cultures he’s lived in. I think this was most profoundly expressed in the context of Sage’s alcoholism, because part of fighting it has been embracing the spiritual ideas he grew up with and then discarded:

“He remembered when prayer had been suggested to Megan at Medicine Wheel [an AA-like group Sage started]; he’d had the sense that she’d rejected the idea as ineffective. He remembered a time when it had been suggested to him and he’d laughed, too.” (more…)

Much, much deserved: our very own SuperLibrarian has been named RWA’s 2011 Librarian of the Year

Go on over to the BatCave and congratulate our fantastic friend on this honor.