cover image Between Earth and Sky

Between Earth and Sky

Amanda Skenandore. Kensington, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4967-1366-7

Skenandore’s intensely emotional debut reveals the difficulties faced by Native Americans who were torn from their culture to integrate into a white society where they were not accepted. In 1906, after Alma Mitchell reads a newspaper article about her childhood friend, Harry Muskrat, being on trial for murdering a federal agent, she asks her attorney husband Stewart to defend Harry in court. The narrative alternates between 1906, when Alma and Stewart travel from their home in Philadelphia to Wisconsin to aid in Harry’s defense, and the late 19th century, when Alma made friends with her classmates at Stover, the Native American school managed by her father. Though Alma had Native American friends, learned their language, and saw them as equals, she never truly understood their plight after they were forced from their land to assimilate into white culture. As Alma visits the White Earth reservation as an adult and helps her husband investigate the murder, she is disturbed by the poverty she sees and how the Native Americans have been taken advantage of. Alma’s conversations with Harry lead her to examine her motivation to help him and to realize she must come to terms with the tragedies of her past, and how her inability to understand the cultural divide may have contributed to the death of someone she loved. Skenandore’s deeply introspective and moving novel will appeal to readers of American history, particularly those interested in the dynamics behind the misguided efforts of white people to better the lives of Native Americans by forcing them to adopt white cultural mores. (May)