The White
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The White

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  534 ratings  ·  106 reviews
“I was born a white at sea on the way to the New World . . . But I was taken by those whom we called Indians. Nearly speechless for a time, I was beset by terrors.”

This is the voice of Mary Jemison, who, in 1758, at the age of sixteen, was taken by a Shawnee raiding party from her home near what would become Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In this intimate reimagining of her lif...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 16th 2002 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2002)
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Nancy
I read this several years ago and could not find the title for a long time in order to add it to my list here. I remember being caught by the writing style of at least the beginning. Very impressionistic, haunting. This is a story of a real person who lived through some pretty horrific circumstances. Watching her family brutally killed, then being taken captive, surviving reluctantly, and then, after being traded to two sisters who had lost a brother to similar brutality yet treated her with kin...more
Nan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brianah
started: 11/30/08
finished: 12/3/08

This book was incredibly interesting! I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in history. It follows the life of a girl who, at a very young age, is taken by indians and essentially sold into slavery with another indian tribe. She ends up marrying two indians from two different tribes and having several children. Her stories are amazing and it is shocking to realize this is all based on the actual life of this woman as she described it. Truly a worthwhil...more
Molly
This book was based on a true story of Mary Jemison. The book had potential to be a great book, but lacked where one could develop the story more. At times it was rushed other times things could have been eliminated, like some of the stories told. Character development is needed to really feel in to the book. I kept comparing this book to "Follow the River" which was a great book. All in all, the book read fast and I'm glad I read this account of her story.
Marjorie
"In 1758 a woman around the age of sixteen named Mary Jemison - or as some now think, Mary Jamison -- was actually taken by a Shawnee raiding party in south-central Pennsylvania; she was forced from her home, which lay close to what would later be known as the town of Gettysburg. In 1823, in New York State, the aged Mary sat for three days with a physician and local historian, James Seaver, and told him the story that he wrote down and later published."
Jennifer
I'm sick of buying books touted as amazing and lyrical only to find they are mundane. I'm not wasting my time finishing this book. I know there are better books out there. This book is not lyrical. I've read truly musical prose. Rather, this writing is over-ambitious and feels as though it tries too hard to be profound or transcendental. I don't think a pioneer woman would have the education to think/feel this way.
Janis
The White is based on the real story of Mary Jemison, who was captured as a young girl by a Shawnee raiding party in 1758. That story itself is plenty compelling -- here, it is made even more so by the beauty of the author's vision and writing. (I was not surprised to find, after reading the book, that the author is a poet. Her writing asks to be read with the heart as well as the mind.)
Christine
The White is one of those singularly-affecting books that is also the only one its author has ever completed. Published in 2002, this evocative novel tells in lyrical and beautifully wandering detail the story of the real Mary Jemison, a Pennsylvanian frontier girl. She was captured by a Shawnee raiding party at 16 years old in 1758 and spirited away to be raised by two kind and quiet native women. Eventually she marries into the tribe and decides to remain the rest of her days among them. Real...more
Rebecca
Violent, somber, sexual at times, this was a hard read. It is a good representation of the tumultuous Native/white relationship though, with each side vilifying the other and misunderstanding their ways. Although it is fiction, The White is loosely based on a true story and closely resembles non-fictional captivity narratives. The book is lopsided in its details though: the unpleasant things (like torture and scalpings) are described in vivid, horrible detail, but others elements are completely...more
SmarterLilac
Graceful and elegant prose makes this an enjoyable and well-formed narrative about a young settler kidnapped and assimilated into a Native American tribe in the 18th century. Extremely relevant in this age of greater social awareness of ethnic and identity issues.
Jesika
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Michelle
Jun 06, 2009 Michelle rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Native American/Early American colonial history fans
So I had checked this book out from the library a while ago, and returned it without ever getting to read it. Then my mom read it and really liked it. We usually read the same types of things, so I rechecked it out. Now, let me give a disclaimer -- although I am not racist or prejudice or anti-American Indian, etc., etc. I normally do not enjoy reading books about their history. It's always brutal, depressing and the books are all about who's to blame, who did what, yadda yadda yadda. Everyone i...more
Heather
Like me, you may have heard the stories about the Indian boarding schools that were set up by the federal government in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The basis for the schools was to take Indian children away from their families and communities and send them to boarding schools, mostly run by religious organizations, for the purpose of "civilizing" them, helping them "find religion", and otherwise causing them to be assimilated into white, Christian culture. I find this whole episode one of the m...more
Jori Richardson
In 1758 Pennsylvania, sixteen year old Mary Jemison is captured by a band of Shawnee Indians. At first, she rejects her captors and desperately plots methods of escape, but as time passes, she adjust more and more to the Native American way of life, even marrying within the tribe.

The story is very familiar - I can think of a handful of other books off the top of my head with this exact plotline. But, many of those books have also been very good, which I why I wasn't all that hesitant about readi...more
Francoise
Beautiful. That's the only possible word for this poem of a life story stitched toether from tiny but detailed scenes and memories of scripture mixed with Indian tales.

Let's be clear. I have no patience for poetry. But a book that could use so few words, describe so few scenes, describe so few events and yet encompass a woman's entire life both interior and exterior can only be described as poetry.

Oh. I haven't even told you yet that this book tells the tale of an actual woman, Mary Jamison from...more
Melissa
This is a book about a girl who is given by a group of home raiders to a Native American family to replace the death of their brother. She witnesses the murder of her family by these same raiders. This is what I also knew about the book before I started reading. I thought, how depressing, but interesting.

The book talks mostly about this woman's life among the Native Americans. However, it doesn't go into a lot of detail about things. We get a very surface account for the most part. Once in awhil...more
Liz Ellen Vogan
"When I was captured and hurried across our fields, departing them forever, they had looked as they had always looked. In later days the fact that I was a prisoner had not stopped the breeze nor the tubers which grow sequestered in the dark ground nor the darkness itself nor the flutterings of moths..." The story of Mary Jemisen is fascinating and this novelization allows us to ruminate on many aspects of history and the human experience. The encroachment of Europeans on Native land, the horribl...more
Holly
Having read both the original Jemison narrative and a number of retellings I think this is probably my favourite version of her story out there. It's lyrical and beautiful and gets into the heart of Mary's feelings far better than the versions more concentrated on getting the facts out there. I think knowing the story and the way it would develop helped me to let go and really enjoy Larsen's narrative, and perhaps those giving it less stars could've benefited from that too.
Balika
I did really like this story (Mary Jenison, the white 10 year old taken hostage by Indians in late 1700s and who lived with the Seneca for the remainder of her days) because it is fascinating and poetic. Snippets of her real journal are mixed in with pieces of dreams, descriptions of her life, and stories. I didn't find the story believable and I didn't connect emotionally with the characters, but this may have been the point. A good read, a solid use of a few hours, but nothing I'd rave about....more
Kipahni
So this could have been totally great! But instead it was meh. You can tell the author was a poet for her chapters read like short prose- which I am totally into, however I would have liked it to be a little more meaty.... for lack of a better description. I wanted my heart to be broken or to feel angery or hopeful but all that I did feel was hazy. I mean what was with that one page of a mesmerizing man walking by and then declairing he was joseph smith- totally random and disconjointed.

So if I...more
Lizzie
I didn't plan this, but this book fit well with The Unredeemed Captive which I read last year. This is a fictionalized account of another white woman who was also captured by Indians and chose to stay with them, and who told her story late in life to a historian.

It's kind of a dull book, though. Not a whole lot happens except gathering and preparing food, with an occasional battle. Our heroine Mary of the Senecas is kind of a Mary Sue: red hair and blue eyes (of course). She's patient and kind,...more
Mona
It's a great story line but it's like having a meat & potatoes meal with no meat. It is 1758 and Mary Jemmison is captured and kept by the Shawnee Indians. The Indians take the rest of her family, her parents, and siblings into the forest, kill them, then scalp them. They appear to be intrigued by the color of Mary's hair (auburn). She stays with the Shawnee, first out of fear, then is given to another tribe, where two sisters "adopt" her. She eventually has a mate and subsequent children. A...more
Alaina
Mary Jemison was a real sixteen year old girl who, in 1758, was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians, witnessed her entire family murdered and scalped, and was then traded to a different tribe, where she was adopted, accepted, and loved. This is where the author begins a poetic, fictional story, loosely based on the few facts known about Mary's life as a white-skinned, hazel-eyed, red-haired Seneca Indian woman, renamed Two Falling Voices. I enjoyed the author's unique writing style and use of different...more
Barb
Aug 29, 2007 Barb rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: history lovers
I read this as part of a community program called "One Book, One Community" which unites people by having them all reading the same book, and then sharing thoughts and activities. Since the events in this book took place near my home, and since there appears to be a similar experience in my family tree, I was really interested in the tale of a young white girl kidnapped on the frontier by Native Americans in the area.

It tells a remarkable story of a girl who grew to be more a part of the tribal...more
Aprille
Book #14 of 2008. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed in this. A novelization of the story of Mary Jemison - the "white woman of the Genesee" - kidnapped as a teen, who passed up several opportunities to have her freedom redeemed to remain with the Seneca (I believe) family she became a part of, to me it failed on the "novelization" side. Mary told her story to a doctor in her later years, and this book reads like I believe that would. Not that I don't like the style and cadence, the sparsen...more
Ann
A very fast and interesting work of historical fiction, based on the capture of Mary Jemison, and her family, by the Shawnee people in 1758. Mary was a very resilient 16 yr old at the time of her capture and overcame what surely was some pretty horrific circumstances. But, over time, Mary adapted to the life of the indigenous people, taking a husband or two along the way, and bearing seven children, even after gaining her freedom. She chose to remain with those that she eventually considered to...more
Nancy
Mary, a white child captured by the Indians who killed her parents, lives the rest of her life among Indians. Based on a true story.
Chanda
This book could have been brilliant. It had the storyline and some actual history to back it up but it was destroyed in the hands of an inept author who attempted to make a philosopher of herself and again attempted to impose that tangled thinking on to characters who weren't philosophers either. No character or sentiment in it was given the depth of even the page it was written on. Very disappointed and now not surprised by the low circulation this one received. I have so much less time to read...more
Sarah
A kind of strange little book. It tells the tale of Mary, who was taken prisoner by the Shawnee and given to the Seneca in place of a warrior who was killed. (Meanwhile, her whole family is scalped...) Larsen's prose is lyrical and beautifully composed, but the story is almost abstract. Mary is an enigma and I didn't really understand her evolution of character very much. Often I felt as if I were a peeping Tom looking in her cabin window, seeing but not engaging with her. Still, an evocatively...more
Kathy
Wow. I agree with all the rave reviews on the back of the book by the likes of Annie Dillard (whom I respect greatly). Lyrical and brutal at the same time. The intensity unraveled a bit at the end as Larsen moves through larger chunks of time, but that also makes sense in that the 'plot' is the trajectory of Jemison's life rather than something manufactured for suspense. What is the plot of someone's life, anyway? Highly recommended, though I'll warn the squeamish that Indian-White relations in...more
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