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Yellow Raft in Blue Water

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  13,998 Ratings  ·  817 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 January 1st 1987)
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Mariah It's the story of three generations of women in a Native American family - and how they cope with various life events. The story is split into three…moreIt's the story of three generations of women in a Native American family - and how they cope with various life events. The story is split into three books: one for the daughter Rayona, the mother Christine, and the grandmother Ida. The more you read into the story the more the puzzle pieces fit together about certain events within the story and why the characters act in a certain way. Really amazing and currently my favourite book!(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 07, 2016 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's something peaceful about envisioning a yellow raft in blue water... Can you picture it? Maybe a warm summer breeze with the heat beating down on you. Serenity. Calmness. Or the vision of that raft floating in all kinds of weather be it torrential winds, waves or the gentle lapping on a windless day. It's solid but prone to taking a beating. It may be chipped or falling apart, but its pieces remain intact, holding it together. A symbol for family, perhaps.

This is the story of Rayona, Chr
Diane S ☔
Feb 17, 2016 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three generations of women, the complicated relationships that can be found between mothers and daughters. The novel starts in the present and is told backwards. Starts with young fifteen year old Rayona, trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs, taking care of her mother Christine. Christine who loves too hard and unwisely but tries to be a better mother than she felt hers was. Ida, her story pulls everything together, the reader can then put all the pieces together, cause and effe ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Candi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You know, it's strange, you live in a place half your life and yet the sight of it from an unfamiliar angle can still surprise you, it was as though I had never before seen that building, so small and hollowed out against the treeless land."

This quote can be true about a home or a place often visited that we may cherish, or perhaps even abhor, when brought forth from our memories. I also think the same can be true about a person, or persons, that we find ourselves inextricably linked to in our
Feb 07, 2016 Camie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an emotionally dense tale of three generations of American Indian Women. It's basically one story told three times from a different POV.
First we hear 15 year old Rayona 's story, who feels everyone has deserted her and now even the one ever-present person in her life, her Mother has abandoned her. Next we hear the version by her mother Christine, who while battling her own demons , basically raises Rayona ,her mixed race daughter, as a single mom alone through difficult times. Lastly we
Apr 10, 2016 Dianne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 3.5 for me - review to come.
Carol Brill
What kept this from being a 4 or better for me is an ending I didn't find satisfying. It's a skillfully plotted story with strong writing, well-rounded, sympathetic female characters and a strong sense of place and tradition. This is my second time reading this book, the first time was 10-15 years ago. The strength for me is that it is about 3 generations of mothers and daughters and told in sections from each of their POV. It starts with teenage Rayona's POV, moves to her mother, Christine, and ...more
A high 4.5 stars. I am still considering bumping it up to 5. I really enjoyed this book. Narrated first by the granddaughter, then the mother and the conclusion by the grandmother, this book depicts the struggles of the three generations of women in this contemporary Native American story. Each character's viewpoint contains heartache and secrets. The women are all stoic and brave when faced with adversity - coping in their own ways. I loved them all - Rayona, Christine and Ida. But, especially ...more
Aug 04, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it
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
Jan Livingston
Jun 06, 2008 Jan Livingston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Everly Anders
Aug 04, 2011 Everly Anders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 15, 2008 Danielle rated it it was ok  ·  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.
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
Mar 05, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, beloved
Cross generational story about three women living on an Indian reservation in Montana. Outstanding.
Apr 25, 2014 Jessie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2016 Irene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
We are given the story of three generations of women told in reverse chronological order. Difficult mother-daughter relationships characterize each story; the wounds of adolescence cripple them from being a good mother to their own daughter. This novel focused on adolescent struggles, even when we were hearing from adult characters, they retained an adolescent voice, perception and focus, giving this book the feel of a young adult novel. The characters never quite came to life for me, despite va ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Laila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2009 Ginny Dodge rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2007 Myfanwy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Apr 03, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ruth by: José
Shelves: general-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 28, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book for almost a year waiting to use it for whatever reading challenge I was working on, but I haven't been able to squeeze it in anywhere. So I finally just read it. This was a sad little story, but I absolutely loved the descriptive strokes. I think the author nailed human nature in vivid way.

The 3 MCs were 3 generations of Native American women. I enjoyed each of their sad little stories and they felt well told. However, I'm not sure I liked the format. Each of the 3 POVs were
Aug 30, 2013 Florence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2016 Perri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting character studies, this is the story of three generations of Native American women. We learn about their culture, poverty, and isolation. Two of the three characters are difficult to like, but the reader comes to understand, if not agree with the choices they make. Three and a half stars
Oct 31, 2007 suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 18, 2012 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was my first introduction to a plot and story woven around the Indian Reservations. Rayona, Ida and Christine are still with me after all these years. I mourn the loss of Michael Dorris,still.
Catherine  Mustread
Moves backwards from the 1980s to the 1940s covering the lives of three generations of Native American women in Montana: Rayona, Christine and Ida.
Angie H
Jul 20, 2015 Angie H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-project
There are two sides to every story, but in this case there are three! I really enjoyed how this story was told. Broken into three parts, each part from a different person's perspective, working from present back to the past. I'm not even sure how to describe this book, but let me just say the characters you disliked at the beginning of the book you will start having much more sympathy for as the book progresses and their point of view is told. I must say though I wasn't thrilled by the ending.. ...more
Nov 18, 2014 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
I can understand why this book is considered a modern classic. The writing is beautiful. Dorris tells the story of three Native American women--mother, daughter, granddaughter--to life with both sympathy and a critical view of their shortcomings. Told in a backwards chronology, Dorris begins with the story of Rayona, the granddaughter, half-Indian, half-African American, constantly on the move with her mother who can't hold down a job or a man. She has an almost nonexistent relationship with her ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
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
Book Concierge
Dorris braids a single story told in reverse chronological order, from three unique perspectives. Rayona, a 15-year-old “half-breed,” begins the story, relaying her efforts to raise her own irresponsible mother. We then move to Ray’s mother, Christine, who recounts her struggles growing up and rebelling against her unaffectionate mother, Aunt Ida. Finally we hear from Aunt Ida, the matriarch of the family, whose secrets have shaped her daughter and granddaughter in ways she never intended.

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Three generations of Native American women well told 14 71 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
More about Michael Dorris...

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“Don't ask so many questions and they will all be answered.” 10 likes
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The woman retreated a step. This thought had clearly not occurred to her before.”
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