Official Review: The Inheritance by Christine Sleeter

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Official Review: The Inheritance by Christine Sleeter

Post by jvez » 09 May 2018, 16:23

[Following is an official review of "The Inheritance" by Christine Sleeter.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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In 1862, the Homestead Act was implemented, enticing Americans and foreign immigrants to migrate to the western parts of the country. New settlers were given the opportunity to own a portion of the public land spanning 160 acres. The settlers, called ‘homesteaders,’ needed to pay a registration fee and were required to live in their allotted land portion for a minimum of five years. The government called this a ‘fair chance’ for all citizens and aspiring citizens to acquire land properties. However, the government never considered the indigenous people that were already living in Western America. The Homestead Act displaced a number of tribes and led to heightened racial discrimination and abuse. One of the many tribes displaced and maltreated were the Utes of Colorado. And in The Inheritance, author Christine Sleeter sheds light into the sufferings of the Utes and other American Indians who were unjustly branded as 'savages' and forced to leave the lands they called their homes.

The book recounts the life of Denise Fisher, who, at thirty years old, seems to have everything in life. She has loving parents, a hot ‘maybe’ boyfriend, and a best friend she considers as the ‘sister she never had.’ To top it all, her beloved grandmother has bequeathed her a house, saving her the need to pay rent which is the usual headache of underpaid teachers like her. But everything changes when Denise meets an elder woman who claims her mother was the first white child born in Colorado—the same story Denise’s grandmother used to tell her. The elder woman is unrelated to Denise’s grandmother; thus, Denise finds it baffling why the two shared the exact same story. Denise then sets out to find the truth behind the 'first white child born in Colorado.’ Her curiosity eventually leads her to the history of the Utes in Colorado and to the discovery that she is a descendant of colonizers. Denise then experiences internal dilemmas and struggles to reconcile with the fact that the house she inherited from her grandmother is a product of homesteading. Adding to her dilemmas is a series of complications involving the most important people in her life—her parents, her lover, and her best friend—as Denise reveals to them the truths she uncovered.

The Inheritance is a fictional story loosely based on the author’s experiences and studies regarding the Utes and other indigenous groups in America. Coming from an indigenous tribe and also from a country that was under colonial rule for hundreds of years, it was refreshing for me to read about the perspective of the descendants of colonizers. I never thought they could have these sorts of quandaries. The author’s understanding of the indigenous people was also very evident in the book, and I agree with all her ideas regarding colonization and the importance of land not just as a physical property but as a home. I also commend how the author bravely criticized the educational system in America that neglected to incorporate in the curricula the struggles of the indigenous people and the laws that disregarded their human rights.

The only negative thing I observed is how the historical facts were laid out in the book. It would have been better if the author used a more artistic or literary approach in explaining these historical data, and not merely crammed dates and decrees into a few paragraphs. The stories of the Ute and the Ohlone Indians are also promising and would have left a bigger impact on me if the author provided more personal accounts of the indigenous people and a little less on details that could be researched. The author’s treatment of the historical accounts is mainly factual, and as a reader, you will be joining the main character, Denise, in her researchers about the Indians. If you do not like this type of narrative approach or if you are looking for a historical fiction story, then this is not the book you’re looking for.

I give The Inheritance 3 out of 4 stars for its thought-provoking discussion of colonization and for the author’s advocacy of giving back to the Indians who were unjustly displaced from their lands. The book is also very well-written with only a few typos and some errors in punctuation. The author was also fond of using ‘continued’ as a statement signifier, and for purposes of tightening, the author should consider omitting some of the ‘continued’ in the narrative.

I recommend this book to fans of general fiction and to anyone interested in reading more about the real—uncensored and unaltered—histories of the Native American Indians. This book will definitely provide readers a broader insight regarding American colonial histories that school textbooks may fail to discuss in detail.

The Inheritance
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Post by bb587 » 10 May 2018, 07:19

I saw this book on the list and considered reading it. I found something more to my taste, but I'm glad I can read a review about it. Talking about the tribes that came before us is difficult but necessary. We should have learned more in school about what was here before colonization. That being said, reading facts and dates aren't usually exciting to read about in fiction. I like that you suggested the author use a more artistic approach.

Thanks for the review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 10 May 2018, 07:37

This time in American history does fascinate me. This one sounds like there is a bit of mystery wrapped up in it as well. I'm not usually into this kind of story, but I'll have to keep this one in mind for when I want something different. Thanks so much.
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Post by Samarah2010 » 10 May 2018, 08:11

The tribes came before us.sadness that being said,reading facts and dates missing are arents is usually exciting. Ill have to keep this one on my mind and i want something different.any0ne whos interested i offer this one.also its interesting the story of the real uncensored and unalterehistories of native american indians.

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Post by haleygerstenberg » 10 May 2018, 09:33

This is a topic I've been curious about for awhile, and as you mentioned, it isn't something that's really taught very well in school in America... Sounds like a book worth reading, this makes me want to check it out

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Post by teacherjh » 10 May 2018, 11:07

I used to read a lot of colonial fiction. I might try this one.

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Post by SABRADLEY » 10 May 2018, 13:54

It sounds like the book may serve as a platform of sorts for the author's causes. While I'm sure I would agree with her position on the matters, I prefer my fiction books to be free from personal politics. Thank you for a great review!

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Post by cpru68 » 10 May 2018, 14:38

It is a shame what was done to the various tribes that were here way before we were. I find a mix of fiction and non-fiction so nice with books like this because I can come to learn something that is fact based while enjoying a storyline. It sounds like the author did a great job honoring those who went through many indignations that many of us didn't even know happened.
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Post by Khorleens » 10 May 2018, 16:02

The characters of the book could be fictional but its bases are on real occurrences from way back,which is a great piece of historical information...

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Post by Alwaystkd » 10 May 2018, 21:14

Thank you for sharing this review. I love to read historical fiction books and will add this one to my bookshelf. I agree that cramming to many facts in a book could lose the readers interest. I love a book where the story line moves smoothly and the author doesn’t sit idol trying to cram all his knowledge into one book.

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 10 May 2018, 21:41

Hmm, it's truly a shame about what they did to the indians who were living there before. I though thanksgiving was celebrated between the indians and white people because the indians taught about cultivation, a way of appreciation. I'm also surprised by the point that the Americans are against their education system. Seems to me everywhere is the same. Thank you for your detailed review!
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Post by Vickie Noel » 11 May 2018, 00:20

I don't know so much about this part of history and I get fascinated reading actual dates and facts in a fiction story. It somehow pitches me straight to that time. I'm also curious about the little mystery surrounding Denise and how her life changes after her discoveries. Will certainly be looking into this one. Thanks for the superb review!
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Post by Libs_Books » 11 May 2018, 13:43

Great review. I'm interested in this subject, but I'm not sure if this one's for me. I think I'd probably prefer straight fiction or non-fiction, although I have read other books that successfully blend the two.

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Post by jvez » 12 May 2018, 14:24

Thank you everyone for commenting :) I appreciate you all dropping by and reading this review.

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Post by gen_g » 14 May 2018, 10:03

It is always insightful when issues of colonisation are discussed - I did a module on colonial literature once, and it was very enlightening. Thank you for your lovely review.

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