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Yellow Raft in Blue Water

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  12,161 ratings  ·  722 reviews
Starting in the present and moving backward in time, this is the thrice-told tale of three women... 15-year-old part-black Rayona, searching for a way to find herself...her American Indian mother, Christine, consumed by both tenderness and resentment towards the people she loves...and the fierce and mysterious Ida, the mother and grandmother whose haunting secrets, ancient ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published April 1st 1988 by Warner Books (NY) (first published May 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Michael
Aug 04, 2007 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those studing perspective and/or Native American culture
I must start off this review by saying that, due to lots of input from those who loathed the book with a fiery passion (the juniors from last year who, like myself this summer, were assigned to read Yellow Raft for English III). So before I began this book, I was expecting a trip to Hell and back in the form of tedious writing and hokey plot twists. Now, being that I'd like to think that their oral review had little to no effect on my opinion, I will continue with my blog.
It's no surprise that t
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Jan Livingston
This book has characters that touch your heart and stay with you. I finished this several days ago and still and putting together new ideas and interpretations over the story.
It really highlights the frailty of humanity as well as the deep, abiding damage that can come from secrets; even well intentioned secrets.
the characters live in a world if missed communications which have disastrous long term consequences. the end of the story has a bright, shining candle of hope but it is not certain and
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Elle Lapraim
What I loved about this book was that it was broken up into three sections, each one of them about a different character, a girl, her mother, and grandmother. Every time the point of view changed you felt differently about the caracter. Plus the dialogue was great, we could all learn something from this author.
Danielle
Jan 15, 2008 Danielle rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one, really
So, I made it about halfway through this book before throwing in the towel. Here's why:
1. I'm used to loving a book, or at least being invested in the characters enough that it's hard to put it down. That was not the case with this book. I read it because I had nothing else to do. But stopping at any point was not difficult, and I didn't feel strongly compelled to pick it up again.
2. The story was slow moving, without beautiful prose to make up for the lack of plot. The writing was only so-so.
3.
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Socket Klatzker
I have complicated feelings about this book. I read it about 15 years ago, as a high school student. I loved it. I always used it as an example of men being able to write from women's perspectives in an effective way. Previously, I found that I did not get into other male author's attempts, but really felt like Dorris captured female voices honestly especially around objectification and sexualization. I put him in a category of empathic and clear thinking; I put him on a pedestal of the compassi ...more
Jessie
I whole-heartedly loved this novel. It's a formidable saga of women spanning three generations that is beautifully layered and absolutely unforgettable. It begins with Rayona, my favorite of the three, a young girl of 15 that is as level-headed and independent as she is hardened by circumstance. Her story begins as she struggles with the contradictory natures of her relatives. Half black and half American Indian, she is undeniably striking and exudes both an inner strength and sullen attitude as ...more
Laila
I liked the beginning a lot. I wasn't too keen on the author's rather awkward literary device of switching narrators. Unsatisfying conclusion.
Ginny Dodge
After reading A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, I found myself unhappy with the literary merit of Michael Dorris’ novel. The story of three women of Native American descent in the Oregon and Montana area was stated to be a monumental novel. My original belief, upon reading the reviews in the front of the book, was that the novel would be an uplifting portrayal of three women’s journeys throughout life. Unfortunately, my reading appetite was not sated. The typical vocabulary and unexciting plot line l ...more
Ruth
Apr 03, 2014 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ruth by: José
Shelves: general-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Florence
At first the tale seems straighforward. A teenage girl has an irresponsible mother who abandons her to a cold-hearted grandmother who doesn't want her either. Life on a remote and poverty stricken Indian reservation in Montana has never been easy, especially for a teenager who is half African American. Almost nothing in this absorbing tale is as it first appears. Everyone is holding secrets. Slowly, ever so slowly, events take on new meaning and the characters gain our compassion. The three fema ...more
suzy
I got creeped out after the author killed himself and more truth came out about his life and his treatment of his foster children. Makes me wonder what really inspired his work as well as that of his wife, Louise Erdrich. At the time I enjoyed the book.

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Karen
I wasn't as taken with this as I thought I might be. I'm sure I read it years ago, but not one word of it was familiar. I listened to it on audio CD this time - it is long - 12 discs. It is a story told from the point of view of three different female members of an Indian family living on (and off) a reservation in Montana - or possibly Wyoming? It is basically the same story told three times. The granddaughter, Rayona, speaks first; most of her story is told as it is happening to her. Her mothe ...more
Carol
I read this book when I was in my thirties. I'm not sure I could have appreciated it as much in my twenties and certainly not in my teens. I was particularly taken by how 3 generations of women saw one particular event very differently. While I'm certain there are many people smarter and more mature than I, force feeding books like this on teen readers makes no sense. Schools do an excellent job of making reading and writing painful. I'm all for letting kids (of all ages) choose what they'd like ...more
Jocey
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, Michael Dorris is a book about the three women. The main characters are Rayona, a 15 year old girl. Daughter of Christine. It takes place in Montana on Native American reservation. Christine, Rayona’s mother. Aunt Ida, Rayona’s grandmother. One of Christine’s internal struggles is that she feels guilty for telling Lee (her brother) to join the army. Her external struggle is that Aunt Ida, doesn’t really like her, and they really don’t get along.


During my time readin
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Jamie
This book is based on three Native American character's lives. Rayona is a shy teenager who is half Native American and half African American. She faces alot of conflicts with her mother who is an alcaholic/party animal, and gets teased in school for being mixed. Christine, is Rayona's mother. She is Native American, and is married to an African American soldier named Elgin. Thoughout her part of the book, she faces some difficulties with Elgin witch reflects alot on Rayona. Ida, is Native Amer ...more
Owen
The book I read was A Yellow Raft In Blue Water by Michael Dorris. The story is about 3 differant woman, all from their Point Of View (POV). Rayona, Christine, and Ida. The book starts with Rayona as a littel girl. The auther tells about her life as she grows up. Then Christine's (Rayona's mother) part comes. It tells about her and her life growing up. Than she has Rayona. One of the main conflects in this book between Christine and Rayona is that, Christine ran away from Rayona and left her wi ...more
Yasmina
This book is about 3 generations of women in a family. Rayona is the daughter, Christen is the mother, and Aunt Ida is the "Grandma". It is about are 3 parts and each part is through the eyes of each person.
The story begins with Rayona playing cards with Christine in the hospital, when Rayona's African-American father Elgin visits, making Christine angry. Christine leaves the hospital with Rayona, threatening to kill herself at the spot where Rayona was born. Christine eventually leaves Rayona
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Myfanwy
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a novel I won't soon forget. Set in Seattle and Montana, it tells the tale of three Native American women--Rayona, Christine and Ida--each in her own voice. They are related, a family, and their worlds intersect and tear apart, span out and braid back together, but it is not until the ending that the reader fully understands how the events which start the novel have come to pass.

It is told in reverse, starting with the youngest, Rayona or Ray for short. At first,
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Ms. Hartman
It has been over twenty years since I have read this book. I remember being profoundly changed by "A Yellow Raft in Blue Water." After college I ended up working with teenagers and adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities, and I worked specifically with children with fetal alcohol syndrome. The struggle kids diagnosed with FAE/FAS is heart-breaking at best. It is a tremendously frustrating diagnoses for everyone involved. In 1997 I was finishing my Creative Writing degree at the U of MN- ...more
Lora
I really enjoyed this book. An honest discussion from three different women about their dysfunctional lives as they have been dealt out. I loved that there was really no whining in the book. I loved the strength of the women and the culture involved. Surprised that it was written by a man, but maybe that allowed for the no whining part that actually let me enjoy the book.
Suzanne
I read this years ago and loved the late Michael Dorris' words and the image of Native American life he conveyed so vividly. He and his wife, Louise Erdrich, often collaborated on novels which I felt was unprecedented. I think it should be required reading for American high school students but find myself dismayed by some of their reviews here. Hopefully, they won't throw the book away, and will see it in a different light if they reread it years from now.
Erdrich and Dorris were an outstanding
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Maya Man
enjoyed watching the story unfold through three pairs of eyes. although all three generations of women have an opportunity to narrate, I did not agree with the reasoning behind some of their unforgivable actions. also felt as though some relationship dynamics remained unexplained at the end of the book.
Brian EVHS Ta
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a powerful novel that examines the relationship between a daugher, a mother, and a grandmother. Dorris starts the novel through the perspective of the daughter, Rayona, then to the mother, Christine, and finally to the grandmother, Ida, where it all began.
As you read A Yellow Raft In Blue Water you learn and feel the struggles of each woman. Often I found myself thinking, 'that's why' as I progressed through each woman's story and connecting the three. Dorris descr
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Julia Reynolds
I’ve read this book before…someone please tell me where? It’s been bugging me all week. Honestly, I’m going to get a lot of taunting for this, but I like this book. Everyone else hates it. I am sorry.

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a crossover novel, meaning it was written for adults but has significant YA appeal (or vice versa, like Harry Potter). It follows the stories, in reverse chronological order, of three women: Rayona Taylor, half-black, half-Native-American, dealing with her sick and on-
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Roberta
This is the story of 3 women in the same family: Rayona, a mixed blood girl; Christine, her Indian mother; and Aunt Ida, her grandmother. It was pretty good even though I felt as if I were plodding through it.

Interestingly, I discovered that Michael Dorris had been married to one of my favorite authors, Louise Erdrich. He had committed suicide in the midst of some allegations of abuse by one of their adopted children.
Seth Reeves
I was recommended this book by the owner of the bookstore Twice Told Tales here in Seattle. It sat on my bookshelf collecting dust for about a year before I finally picked it up and read it. It was hard to get into because the character Christine is so repellent as is almost every other character we come across in the book. It had good reviews and was clearly well-written so after a few false starts I just plunged into the book and finished it in twenty-four hours.

I thought this book was extreme
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Bobbi
Somehow I was expecting historical fiction, but instead this is a book about a dysfunctional Native American family. I loved the characterization and the way the book was split into three different parts that were told from three different points of view. The story itself wasn't amazing or thrilling, it was just about life and the twists and turns it takes. I wanted an ending, but there wasn't one.
Jill Rosenberg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary
This book comes to mind often when I need to remember that things don't always look the same to all parties -- that one person's memory of an event may be substantially different than another person's memory of the same event.
Richelle
At first I didn't really care for this book, but then it started getting better. Unfortunately, there were several unanswered questions and I though the end was pretty awful, like I must have been missing pages.
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Three generations of Native American women well told 14 68 Mar 17, 2014 07:46PM  
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Michael Dorris was a novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer, and author of books for children

The first member of his family to attend college, Dorris graduated from Georgetown with honors in English and received his graduate degree in anthropology from Yale. Dorris worked as a professor of English and anthropology at Dartmouth College.

Dorris was part-Native American through the lineage o
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