My Name is Not Easy
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My Name is Not Easy

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  858 ratings  ·  173 reviews
Luke knows his I'nupiaq name is full of sounds white people can't say. He knows he'll have to leave it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School things are different. Instead of family, there are students - Eskimo, Indian, White - who line up on different sides of the cafeteria like there...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Skyscape
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I was quite happy when I found this book, as this is a subject that really interests me! I've read historical accounts, so I was excited to find a novel.

As for the book itself, I enjoyed it. I'm not normally a fan of the each-chapter-is-told-by-a-different-character trope, but I feel that for the most part, it worked here. I do wish the characters' voices had been a little more distinct from each other; often, I felt that if I hadn't seen the name at the start of the chapter, I wouldn't have kn...more
I am sorry to report that I did not like this book. It is a shame, because the underlying real-life events are fascinating and unique, and there are a lot of really important issues to be dealt with in this arena. But this book just didn't get there. The characters are unbelievable and don't talk or think like children. I didn't understand the motivation for almost ANY of their actions, so there were a number of plot points and choices that just came out of nowhere. The switching between perspec...more
Ann Marie
once again a book has opened my eyes to issues never introduced...I had no idea children in Alaska were sent away from their parents for school starting at the age of on earth did their mothers cope...
this story was difficult to get into...there were too many names - too many directions coming in at the same time...I never felt as a reader that I was in the story or watching it seemed as if no one subject was given more than a line or two...the cover states "an extraordinary...more
It is, perhaps, a negative quirk in my personality that I have no trouble writing for hours about books I hated, but when it comes to books I loved I find myself stalling over reviews.

I really, really liked My Name is not Easy. Debby Dahl Edwardson is clearly just *wildly* in love with her adopted homeland, and it shines through on every page—I still do not have a particular desire to wander the wilds of northern Alaska, but if any book was going to convince me it was a good idea, this would be...more
Mar 19, 2012 Jocelyn marked it as to-read
Shelves: ya, next, liberation
"Award-winning Barrow author caught in squeeze between bookstores, Amazon"
Hannah Heimbuch | The Arctic Sounder | Mar 18, 2012

Barrow author Debby Dahl Edwardson joined an elite group last year when her youth novel, “My Name Is Not Easy,” was named a finalist for the National Book Award. Just a few short months afterwards, she finds herself a bystander as her book is caught in the push-pull of corporate competition.
Barnes & Noble announced recently it would no longer stock the book in its stor...more
Christy Rosso
Christy Rosso
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edwardson, D. (2011). My name is not easy. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish.
Format: Print
Selection process: NoveList
Luke Aaluk states: “My name is not easy” (Edwardson, p. 3, 2011). As an Ińupiaq Luke knows that his true name could not be pronounced by others outside of his Alaskan Native tribe, and readers never learn it in this story. Luke and his younger brothers Bunna and Isaac leave their Alaskan village to attend Sacred Hear...more
When first assigned this book for class, I thought it was about a girl trying to combat slurs on her reputation--"easy" in the sense of "Easy A." Oops.

One of the many narrators/main-ish characters in the book says that his name is not easy for English-speakers to pronounce, hence the title. Aha.

I'm following Goodreads' definition of stars here, in that one star is "didn't like it." I didn't hate it. I don't disagree with what Edwardson has to say--it's an important story that needs to be told....more
It isn't surprising that this book was up for the National Book Award, and I expect to see it at Scott O'Dell time, too. The story is fascinating, giving us just enough of the life back on the tundra to tantalize, and never overexplaining to its readers the things that can be deducted. (One reviewer below complains because the author doesn't explain the difference between Indians and "Eskimos" [who are in conflict with each other at the boarding school], which the reviewer feels is particularly...more
I made it roughly 100 pages before deciding it wasn't going to work.

So the set up is this: 1960s Alaska, a cast of Eskimos and Indians and White people in a Catholic boarding school. The tension is the racial inequality, the bringing together of so many back issues into one place. The problem, though, is in 100 pages, I'm so removed from the characters. I don't know who they are. As soon as I have a slight grasp, I'm thrown a new one. Add to that a year happens within these 100 pages, and I've...more
This is the episodic story of several children in an Alaskan boarding school in the early 1960's. Some "indian" some "eskimo" and some white. Though surrounded by efforts to eradicate their culture, the children somehow hold on, though not without losing some of themselves.

Though I found this book well-written and compelling, I felt like my own knowledge of the history of Indian schools and the way native children were yanked out of their families to be "adopted" helped me understand the narrati...more
Interesting but disjointed tale of Inupiaq brothers sent to a Catholic school hundreds of miles from their home.

Although the book is based on mostly factual events, I felt as if there were too many things crammed into the book when just one or two of them would've been effective in telling the story. Earthquakes, tsunamis, multiple deaths, and radiation are just a few of the things that happen to the characters.

I think that if the author had focused on just a few characters (instead of writing i...more
Madison Snyder
"My Name Is Not Easy", a story told from 3 different perspectives, primarily and beginning with Luke, a fairly happy child, whom is forced to move to Sacred Heart Boarding School with his brothers, Bunna & Isaac, as there are no schools around past the elementary level. Though he is not the only one (as many are forced onto a plane to this place on the other side of their home state, Alaska), he feels alone without the company of his family. The day does get worse though, when the school sta...more
Apr 03, 2014 Sydney rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like history, everyone else
Recommended to Sydney by: My teacher
Shelves: made-me-think
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
As someone who lives in rural Alaska, I can say that Debby Dahl Edwardson has accomplished a great feat with this novel: she has written with a voice that sounds exactly like the way people in rural Alaska talk. The book is extraordinary for other reasons, but the attention that she pays to the small details of how characters talk made this an immediate winner. One of the most accurate books about Alaska that I have ever read.
Luke knows that white people can't say his I'nupiaq name. And he knows that once he and his brothers are sent to boarding school, he'll have to leave his name behind. Things are different at Sacred Heart - there are Indians, Eskimos, and White people. The language spoken is English, and no Native languages are allowed. Luke, like everyone else, is just doing their best to survive.

What can I say about this book? Sometimes it's sad, sometimes it makes you smile, and sometimes it is just plain hea...more
This was a really messy, chopped up narrative with about half a dozen teenagers' voices mixed up with one another's. It seemed as though the writer had wanted to put everyone whose stories she'd been inspired by into this book, and in the end, one felt for none of these hastily drawn sketches. I didn't really learn much about the Eskimos vs. Indians issue either, so this is really closer to a 1.5-star read.
This story is told from multiple POVs throughout a couple of years. The stories are like diary enteries, short and outlining a few events that happened in the 1960's when indigenous peoples in Alaska were sent to boarding schools. Yes, the storyline can be choppy and the ending is kind of a fairy tale one but Edwardson drew me and I was completely involved in each character - and her words can be quite poetic. I think this is a hard story to tell, where does one start? Edwardson invites the read...more
This National Book Award nominee is a compelling piece of historical fiction. Beautifully and heartfully written. The characters voices are strong and true. Bravo!
Gina Whitlock
This was loosely based on a true story. Eskimo children were forced to go to schools hundred of miles away in the 1960's. Two brothers attend this Catholic boarding school divided among Eskimo, Indian and white racial lines. You've got the abusive father, the sweet nun and a variety of children learning to make their way together. The story touched on the factual earthquake and tsunami in the 1960s, plus radium experiments done on some of the Eskimos where researchers tried to learn what charact...more
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson is a very depressing, but at the same time touching, book.

Though the first character we see is Luke (and, generally, I would consider him the main character. After all, the book is named for him) the point of view shifts all over the place. We go from first, to third limited, to third omnicient, sometimes in the same chapter. Really, I don't think that this did much to add to the book. If anything, it was incredibly confusing because one second, you we...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Sterling
Wow, this is a pretty powerful book about a topic that I knew very little about (and is not often read about in history books): boarding schools for Native Alaskans in the 1960s. Before there was a law requiring Alaska to provide schools in every small town, children as young as 6 and 7 were sent to boarding schools far away. The book begins with 3 Eskimo brothers who are sent to a Catholic boarding school, where they meet the harsh Father Mullen, the young and forgiving Father Flanagan, the ste...more
Historical fiction--1960s, Alaska, Native Americans, siblings, school

I loved Edwardson's Blessings Beads a couple of years ago and looked forward to reading this newest novel.

In the opening chapter Luke Bunna, and Isaac are boarding a plane to go to Sacred Heart school outside Fairbanks, Alaska. The three brothers are Eskimo and have never left home or been on an airplane. Immediately Isaac is "taken" because he is too young to attend school. Luke and Bunna are distraught because their mother in...more
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
It's a relief to know that books like this are written and accessible to young people, especially to young people here in Alaska and to indigenous young people all over whose stories need to be told. This makes those stories accessible.

This book follows youth from around Alaska in a Catholic boarding school in Interior Alaska in the 1960s, one of the handful of boarding schools to which Alaska Native youth were sent, often against their will, and in which their cultures and languages were repre...more
This was a part of history I had never really heard about, how the native Alaskan children were sent away to catholic schools and were given easier names, a new language and taken away from everything they knew. This is a true story written as fiction, the forward explains why it is written as such. The story is told by different people the main 2 being Eskimo boy Luke & young white motherless Chickie a young girl from a Scandinavian background, they tell a very different yet similar story b...more
A must-read! A historical fiction riveted with emotion, action, details and unimaginable truths.

From the first chapter, I felt invested in the lives of the three Eskimo children, Luke, Bunna and Isaac (ages 10, 8, 5) who have never been away from family and must attend a Catholic boarding school, hundreds of miles from home. Talk about extreme culture shock not to mention the homesickness these kids felt.

I quivered at times reading this book and my heart ached. I had no idea that back in the 1...more
When I heard Debby Dahl Edwardson read from this novel at Books of Wonder, I thought, "Well, I know nothing about Eskimo culture, nor about Alaska, but WOW, the voice. I have to read this."

And having just read MY NAME IS NOT EASY, I have to say: The voice? Still extraordinary. The novel is narrated by a number of characters, all students at a Catholic boarding school in Alaska in the 1960s. Though perhaps the voices of the individual characters are not as distinct as one would ordinarily expect,...more
Gerri Leen
I'm sort of a tailor-made audience for this book. I love young adult and I'm very pro Native American (to the point where I actually am biased toward that group--a group I'm not a part of--when I take the hidden bias tests at the Harvard site. I'm not biased for any other group that way). So...did I like this? Yes. Did I love this? No.

The like part: I did not know this phase of history despite growing up in Seattle--where Alaska is very close and where I went to school with people who were Alask...more
Chris Murray
Although readers may be familiar with the compulsory relocation of Native American children to boarding schools, where they were required to give up their language, their dress, their food, their religious beliefs, and even their names; there were other atrocities visited on them as this story of three Eskimo brothers makes clear. Luke, Bunna, and Isaac are sent to Sacred Heart Catholic boarding school, deep in the Alaskan interior and far from the icy waters and wide-open expanses of th...more
Judy Desetti
This gives me lots to think about. There were so many things I was unaware of about Alaska, Eskimos, Indians, anything about their culture and history.

I liked the novel but it was hard to get started and understand the story. There were so many voices and it was hard for me to keep all the characters straight and get the larger understanding of the plot.

This story is about several students in a Catholic Boarding school in the interior of Alaska. They were taken away from family and their villa...more
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My name is Debby and I am a writer. I write stories for young people.

If you haven't seen me, it's because I live far far away and do, indeed, write from the top of the world: Barrow, Alaska, to be exact, the northernmost community on the North American Continent.

I've lived here pretty much all of my adult life—thirty years (don’t do the math!) and this place and its people have shaped who I am as...more
More about Debby Dahl Edwardson...
Blessing's Bead Whale Snow Whale Snow/Uqsruagnaq (English - Inupiaq Bilingual Edition) Whale Snow/Uqsruagnaq (English - Inupiaq Bilingual Edition)

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