2 out of 4 stars
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Rite of Passage by Grover Peaceman is an autobiographical account of the author’s time spent as a youth learning the ways of his ancestors. In 196 pages, the author has compiled numerous legends of the Native American people of North America, a deeply spiritual people that believe in living together in harmony. They rely heavily on their ancient traditions to keep their heritage alive in the minds and hearts of their descendants. The author prefaces the book with a mission statement: to “create a concept of the spirituality of the North American Indian, the first people.”
The story begins when Grover is an adolescent and is dropped off at his grandfather's mountain cabin for the summer to undergo a “cleansing.” His grandfather immediately sets to teaching Grover the ways of his people-the Cherokees, tribe of Choctaw. The tension in the relationship is obvious from the start, and Grover looks for opportunities to set out on his own, but soon meets Daniela, a girl front a nearby town, with whom he falls madly in love. Grover and Daniela, along with a couple of new friends, explore the surrounding areas to uncover the mysteries of the ancient Native people.
Grover attends various festivals, including the Nut Moon, Full Moon, Green Corn, and Ripe Corn festivals. For entertainment, the community holds competitions in stick ball and horse racing. As Grover witnesses the community dancing fireside, and hears the prayers, beliefs, and legends that define the Native people, he begins to feel a connection he had never imagined. He makes many journeys that summer, forging a bond with Grandfather, who begins to reveal details about his ancestors. Before long, it is time for Grover’s own rite of passage to begin.
The author heaps a generous helping of Native American folklore into the book, shining a light on some well-known, but not well-understood traditions. We learn the origins of the Native American people's view that all things have spirits, and enjoy a front row seat to a traditional cleansing ceremony. With a respectable list of sources cited, the author has gone to great lengths to share the legends of the Native Americans. These stories were by far my favorite part, tying into the main narrative effortlessly, never feeling forced or disjointed. The author also includes several beautiful sketches, each depicting a focal point in the chapter.
Unfortunately, I immediately knew the reading was going to be problematic. I amassed a list of ten errors within a few pages and at no point did the frequency of errors decrease. The sentence phrasing was awkward and the grammar and punctuation were severely flawed. There were several instances in which a primary character’s name was misspelled and plenty of occasions in which I was confused by what I was reading, feeling as though key details were missing from the narrative.
Even its current condition, I could see this book appealing to a reader with a non-scholarly interest in Native American customs, due to the plentiful insights into tribal traditions and lore. I have rated this book 2 out of 4 stars, hoping the author will invest in professional editing services or perhaps enlist a ghost writer to capture this book's full potential.
Rite of passage
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