Looking for Lost Bird: A Jewish Woman Discovers Her Navajo Roots

Yvette D. Melanson, Author, Claire Safran, With
Yvette D. Melanson, Author, Claire Safran, With William Morrow & Company $22 (233p) ISBN 978-0-380-97601-0
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-380-79553-6
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While growing up as an adopted child in a Jewish family, the author of this compelling memoir never quite fit in with expectations of who she was supposed to be. She didn't look Jewish. She wasn't the boy that her father wanted--though she tried to be. Even her adoring mother found something to nudge her about: ""Be a lady. Sit still. Don't act like a wild Indian."" On the Internet, with help she attributes to both kind strangers and the Great Spirit, Melanson discovers the reason she didn't fit in, uncovering the bizarre truth that she is, in fact, Navajo. ""Funny,"" everyone says to her, ""you don't look Indian."" This memoir of an extraordinarily eventful life is crafted like the rugs that Melanson has learned to make in the tradition of her birth family. First, she strings the warp of her story: her adoptive mother's adoration and death; her adoptive father's abandonment and his new wife's rejection of her; the tragic loves, deaths and separations that scarred her life; the happiness she finds with her far-from-perfect husband, Dickie; and the love she receives from her newfound birth family on a Navajo reservation. As she weaves, the patterns emerge, and, each time she reintroduces a thread, she explains that aspect of her life in more detail. The present tense from which she looks back is always moving forward in time as Melanson writes about her efforts to try to integrate the person she had been with the person she is becoming. (Feb.)
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