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My Name is Not Easy

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,275 Ratings  ·  251 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 (first published January 1st 2011)
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Ana Rînceanu
Inspired by real-life events of Native kids sent off to boarding school, this story was a one day read for me. The main characters are Luke, Sonny, Amiq, Donna and Chickie and they are Inuit, Native American, White students at Sacred Heart School. This school is run by Catholic priests/nuns and the relationship between them and the segregated students is one of power imbalance and abuse.

The story was really interesting, I liked the structure. There are a couple of heartbreaking moments, the boo
Jul 19, 2014 Tara rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya-kid, 2011, yabc
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
Nov 01, 2014 Lena rated it liked it
I have wildly mixed feelings on this book.

First of all, audiobook readers: The male reader rocks.

I liked the premise of this book a lot, and loved all the historical aspects. I learned a lot, especially in the author's note, where she tells which events in the book (most of the important ones) were based on reality. I liked how the novel showed some of the discrimination that natives in Alaska faced, both the Native Americans and Eskimos.

However, I'd be hard-pressed to find a plot in this book.
Dec 20, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it
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
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.
Nov 24, 2011 Erika rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alaska
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.
Jun 29, 2012 Librarymouse rated it really liked it
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
May 18, 2016 MissSusie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Christy Rosso
Apr 07, 2013 Christy Rosso rated it really liked it
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
Oct 31, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
Aamaugak, or "Luke," as the staff of the Sacred Heart School insists on calling him, is an Iñupiaq student hundreds of miles of home, learning to be a "productive" member of American society through Catholic assimilation. Although the story is fiction, it is based on a number of real events, first among them the reality of BIA-funded boarding schools that housed Indian, Eskimo, and white children in various parts of rural Alaska in the 1970s.

As is the case with all stories relating to the force
Dec 04, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
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
Nellie Rulland
Mar 02, 2015 Nellie Rulland rated it it was amazing
I am an Iñupiaq, living in Barrow, Alaska. I am currently a Senior in high school. I lived in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska most of my life. I connected with this book in alot of ways. First of all, just as the people in this book went to boarding school, I also went to boarding school. I have personally experienced a lot of things that happened to the characters in the book. Even though this is a novel, it was more interesting to me because I knew that the things that the author wrote about really hap ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Jocelyn marked it as to-read
Shelves: liberation, ya, next
"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
Joanna Marple
Nov 09, 2015 Joanna Marple rated it really liked it

LUKE When I go off to Sacred Heart School, they’re gonna call me Luke because Iñupiaq name is too hard. Nobody has to tell me this. I already know. I already know because when teachers try and say our real names, the sounds always get caught in their throats, sometimes, like crackers. That’s how it was in kindergarten, and in first, second, and third grade, and that’s going to be how it is in boarding school too. Teachers only know how to say easy names, like my brother Bunna’s.

My name i
Apr 03, 2014 Sydney rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 16, 2016 hannah marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: ya, 2016
I was so excited about this because Indian residential schools are a topic I'm interested in learning more about. However, from the blurb I wasn't ready for the multiple perspectives, and they are just impossible to keep track of. How many locations are there? Who is whom? And it didn't help that nobody got creative with typesetting or design to visually clue me in. I just found all of the characters to sound exactly the same, so I was confused on every page. Sadly dnf.
May 02, 2015 Devan rated it liked it
Summary: Luke and his two younger brothers are heading off to boarding school. When they get there his youngest brother is taken away because he is to young and they do not get to see him again. The brothers try to find their place in a school divided between Native Americans and Eskimos. Soon they find there groove and things are going well. Until Bunna dies in a plane crash going home. Now Luke is the only brother there. The students all start to learn they are not so different from one anothe ...more
Scarlett Sims
So there were things, especially about the audio of this book, that I wasn't crazy about. BUT, I think it's an important read, in that it bring to light issues that the reader likely doesn't know about in a way I hadn't seen since Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac. The American government has done more to Indians than just taking their land, and they've done it recently.
I had heard good things about this book's accuracy in its portrayal of Native people, but if I hadn't, I would have known it was l
Oct 26, 2015 Barbara rated it liked it
Though it got off to a slow start, this story grew on me. I do have two very strong recommendations, however.

1. Do not read the "Forward" and "Author's Note" until AFTER you read the book. She talks about the fact that this is a work of fiction that is based on historical events and personal events that happened to her husband and his brothers. The problem is that she tells exactly what those events are, so several key plot points are revealed before you even meet the characters. These two parts
Alyse Erickson
Dec 08, 2015 Alyse Erickson rated it really liked it
Shelves: tl-307
Edwardson, D., & Ferrari, A. (2011). My name is not easy. New York: Marshall Cavendish. Print.

My Name is Not Easy starts off with Luke, Bunna, and Isaac, three Eskimo brothers, leaving for a Catholic school called Sacred Heart. When they get there, one of the priests takes Isaac away from the brothers and sends him to live in Texas on the grounds that Isaac is apparently 'too young' to go to Sacred Heart. Luke and Bunna arrive when the other kids are having lunch and this other Native Americ
Claudia Hall
This book is the story of three Eskimo brothers from Alaska who are told that they need to go to school far away from home. The brothers hop on this plane and go to school at Scared Heart. One of the brothers is to young to go to school and gets taken away from the school and put into a foster care type system. The two other brother manage to survive their way through a strange new place where there is a divide between the Eskimos, the Native Americans and the Whites. The story jumps around a bi ...more
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
Raegan Young
Apr 30, 2015 Raegan Young rated it really liked it
Shelves: t-l-307, cultural
This book is about a boy named Luke and his two brothers who are sent to boarding school. He leaves behind his family and also change his real name because it is too difficult for people to pronounce. At the boarding school the boys learn that between the races at their school there are a lot of divisions. The students all begin to realize that they live together and become a new family. The kids go through many hard times and realize that they all need eachother through these difficult times wi ...more
Dec 09, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
This book is about a boy named Luke and his two brothers who are sent to boarding school. He leaves behind his family and also change his real name because it is too difficult for people to pronounce. At the boarding school the boys learn that between the races at their school there are a lot of divisions. The students all begin to realize that they live together and become a new family. The kids go through many hard times and realize that they all need eachother through these difficult times wi ...more
Tillie Torpey
Edwardson, D.D. (2013). My Name Is Not Easy. Skyscrape.

Theme/Topic: The experience of Luke, who goes through boarding school where his language is forbidden to speak

Critique (comments, observations, questions):
I really enjoy this book because it gives me deeper insight into the experience of natives throughout the U.S. and Canada of how their ways of life (religion and language) were forbidden. It makes me sad to hear this unfortunate mindset the governments had on indigenous people, especially
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
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.
Teri Pre
Feb 17, 2016 Teri Pre rated it liked it
Shelves: feb2016
3.5 stars. An interesting story about Indian and Eskimo children attending a Catholic school in the late 50s and early 60s.
This National Book Award nominee is a compelling piece of historical fiction. Beautifully and heartfully written. The characters voices are strong and true. Bravo!
Nov 19, 2016 Weezie rated it it was amazing
I knew this book would be hard for me to rate and write a review on because of the subject it handled. I went into this book unsure of Edwardson's connection with the events that unfolded in her story and I wish I would have known that Luke, Bunna, and Isaac were modeled after her husband and his brothers' real life experiences.

The pacing is a little off in the first part of the book but to me it didn't detract from the entirety of the book at all. This would be a great starter book to get your
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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 about Debby Dahl Edwardson...

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