Mother Earth Father Sky

Sue Harrison, Author
Sue Harrison, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (313p) ISBN 978-0-385-41159-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
This debut novel about a woman's struggle to survive in the prehistoric wilderness will not topple Jean Auel from her preeminent position on the bestseller charts. When 13-year-old Chagak's tribe and family are massacred by invaders, she buries the dead and paddles out to sea in search of a new home. An old shaman named Shuganan befriends and shelters her but cannot prevent her forced marriage to one of the warriors who destroyed her village. The novel's only multi-dimensional character, Chagak is charming in her naivete, headstrong and determined in the face of trauma, and a proto-feminist who challenges strict gender roles by learning to be both child-bearer and hunter. The imaginative prose that wove spirituality and myth into Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's Reindeer Moon would be a welcome addition to Harrison's childlike language, slow-paced plot, and unsophisticated characterizations. Instruction in how to build a ulaq, sew suk, carve an amulet, or bone a whale cannot save her tale from intellectual and emotional simplicity, which may reflect the primitive Amerindian mindset but makes for dull reading. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. (June)
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