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The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir
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The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  307 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
"I sat down to write a book about pain and ended up writing about love," says award-winning Chickasaw poet and novelist Linda Hogan. In this book, she recounts her difficult childhood as the daughter of an army sergeant, her love affair at age fifteen with an older man, the legacy of alcoholism, the troubled history of her adopted daughters, and her own physical struggles ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2001)
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Carol Douglas
Sep 01, 2016 Carol Douglas rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written books, as are all of Linda Hogan's works. Hogan is the Chickasaw Nation's writer in residence. Her many books tell of the beauty and extreme difficulty of Native Americans' lives.
The Woman Who Watches over the World is her autobiography. The title is based on a statue she bought that broke but is still beautiful, and it ushers in the story of people who are broken but still full of love.
Hogan was literally broken by a fall from a horse. But despite a life of pai
This is the first Linda Hogan work which I've read in whole--I've read excerpts from Dwellings and The Book of Medicine. The times I've read her it's been assigned reading, and I have to say I'm not really sure how well known she is outside academia. I read this for my women's and gender studies class, where we learned a lot about systems of oppression, including race, and how these perpetuate other systems of oppression. I almost wonder if it would have been better to start with this out of all ...more
Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
The West has been vanishing almost since it was first inhabited by Europeans, and as a Native American writer, Hogan is devoted to the recovery of what has been nearly lost -- in particular, the culture and history of Native American tribes. This collection of personal essays, part memoir, argues that history lives, often unacknowledged, in our bodies. The catastrophe of shattered Indian cultures lives on, generations later, in the shattered lives of so many descendants of those tribes.

Hogan is
Wendy Perkins
Jul 24, 2009 Wendy Perkins rated it did not like it
Hogan has some beautiful turns of phrase in this book, and some excellent descriptions. Beyond that, it's hard to find anything good to say. There was no story. There were probably a dozen stories interwoven, except they didn't go anywhere and coalesce into a larger point. I'm not even sure what this book was supposed to be about, except as a vehicle for Hogan to whine about how painful her life is and has been.
Jul 21, 2014 Anasylvia rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it. There was really no plot just a bunch of memories of this women's life. I know it is a memoir; however, sometimes memoirs follow a pattern or a certain time in the narrator's life. This did not.
Dec 30, 2016 Dustin rated it liked it
An important testimony of Native American life past and present, but not a book you should read before bedtime.

Dustin Renwick
Author, Beyond the Gray Leaf
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
I loved loved loved this book in parts. I was absorbed in it. I felt like a friend was telling me stories because there is something intimate, loving, and wise about Linda Hogan. At other parts of the book, I was lost or bored or put off by her poetic, philosophical musings.

Some of the historical, scientific, or cultural literature from which she draws in her musings is very interesting and powerful for narrating certain truths about Native American history or the importance of the bones of our
Larry Strattner
Aug 11, 2013 Larry Strattner rated it really liked it
This is one potent memoir. It is difficult for many of us to appreciate the history of indigenous people of America after the arrival of Europeans. Years of injustice, intolerance and cruelty sowed, and continue to sow seeds of dissolution and despair. Even those who immigrated to America to escape persecution and genocide never seemed to make any connection between their own plight and dreams of freedom with Native Americans. They merely robbed, raped and killed the original owners of our land ...more
Sep 08, 2016 Randine rated it it was amazing
This book had an enormous impact on me. So much so that I looked Linda Hogan up and watched a 3 hour interview with her on In-Depth Books and then I requested her friendship on FB. Her story is exceptional. The first half of the book is almost too sad to read but her writing is poetic and it's impossible to not feel her love and acceptance of life generated from a Native American point of view. She has a stunning soul.
Jan 01, 2016 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: female-authors
The book started off strong and I was intensely interested with the stories of her own adopted children and her past life with her own mother, but I grew more disinterested when the rest of the novel seemed to focus more on her pain and her accidents from falling off of the horse. I understand that this book is a book of healing and it was written as a means to cope with the pain, but it was not as effective as I would have liked it to be. Perhaps it is because I have never been in an accident l ...more
Dec 31, 2014 Sonja rated it liked it
This book was so hard for me to read. I had to put it down several times because of the abuse she suffered, along with what other relatives suffered. It was just too sad. I have to give the author credit, tho, for having such a forgiving spirit and coming out of her experiences, both mental and physical, with a kind and loving heart. She was so in touch with her Native American background, its history, spirituality, connection with earth and sky, that she came out whole. She is a very strong wom ...more
Hiram R.
Apr 06, 2014 Hiram R. rated it did not like it
Shelves: autobiography
I can't say very many positive things about this book. The tone is self-pitying and self-righteous. The narrative is, it would seem, inadvertently discontinuous, aimless, and inadvertently aporetic - on the one hand, the book is supposed to be a memoir, but on the other hand, the author eventually tells her reader that she "no longer know[s] what truth there is in memory" (p.170).

Hogan's heavy-handed sentimentalism, in my opinion, trivializes the very real problems she wants us to remember, pond
Dec 09, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Reading this was like having a religious experience. I spent two days reading this in order to answer one exam question for a Women's Studies course and I am deeply moved by the stories Hogan told. For the longest time I have been in a bad place but Hogan helped me shed some light on the bad, showed me how I can change for the better "knowing that the horrible and beautiful are together in the world," and passing "the threshold into something finer." There's something tragically beautiful about ...more
Kathleen Smith
Jul 20, 2010 Kathleen Smith rated it liked it
A friend suggested that I read this as she felt it would assist me in my battle with chronic pain.
Since I try everything I immediately ordered it and put all other books on hold.
While the sections that deal with pain are extremely profound and on target, you can count them on one hand. I probably had myself set up for a book that was not to be. Therefore was disappointed.
I found the writing choppy and disjointed (maybe from residual of the authors accident) and very difficult to make thoughts
Claudia Putnam
Nov 29, 2015 Claudia Putnam rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
During a period when the author felt relatively whole in her life, she purchased a Navajo figurine, the woman who watches over the world. Later it shattered. What happens when the a being meant to be the guardian of the world falls apart? What happens when the woman you are falls apart, when your way of seeing is shattered? Hogan, long a beloved author of mine, explores several such dismemberments in her own life and in the history of her people, the Chickasaw. A powerful story.
Sep 28, 2007 Heather rated it really liked it
This is for my class this semester - so I finished it, and I really found her life to be somewhat distressing because of all the things that happened, and I feel bad because alot of it is legacy from when the white settlers moved the Native Americans to reservations. But it was a very interesting book to read and to see another point of view.
Jul 05, 2009 Jessie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, spirit
Beautiful memoir; personal history woven with tribal history.
"I come from warriors," Hogan writes, "yet I can hardly speak. That's why I write this."
A strong sense of healing in the book, not a relief from pain (physical or emotional) but a strength to thrive within it somehow, like the man Hogan writes about who believes he can warm himself with the beauty of fireflies.
Chelsea Greathouse
Feb 09, 2011 Chelsea Greathouse rated it liked it
In The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir, Linda Hogan's language is beautifully written. Her sentences are spiritual and this book was a way for herself to heal her wounds. Finally getting everything out onto a page about her life cleaned her scars. This is a book I would like to re-read when I'm older to get a different perspective on it.
Don Flynn
Nov 02, 2014 Don Flynn rated it really liked it
Between a difficult upbringing, the adoption of two troubled children, and a crippling fall from a horse, I'm not sure how she ever got any writing done. But she did, and this finely wrought memoir of a native Chickasaw woman gives us a glimpse into her patient, indomitable spirit and her efforts to reconnect with her tribal identity.
Nov 26, 2010 Catherine rated it it was amazing
This is a poet I want to keep close tabs on. Her beautiful and rending thoughts of pain illuminated many things for me and as a result, healing came. She's lived a rough life but she's hung on and has eyes for great beauty amidst suffering.
May 23, 2016 Barb rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
I found some of this book very thoughtful and worth pondering. Some parts seemed like white man bashing. That can be OK if it helps people recognize personal prejudices so they can grow, but sometimes enough is enough. Overall I liked the book.
Jul 31, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Powerful memoir written by a Native American poet and writer who not only describes her life but the condition of many of her people who have suffered loss of identity and culture and are now returning to the knowledge and traditions of their elders.
Dec 27, 2013 Brittney rated it it was amazing
This book is my all time favorite. Bestowed upon me by my most influential professor, Dr. Jackie Alexander of Toronto University, I have held this piece so dear to me. Linda has a way of finding beauty in pain and articulates it biologically. I appreciate her spiraled writing style.
Claudia Mundell
Sep 17, 2014 Claudia Mundell rated it really liked it
It is September and I found this book in the closet thinking I had not read it. I see I just read it in March but did not recognize until I was already a couple of chapters into it. I read it all over and enjoyed it. Either that shows my senility or just how good the book really is!
Jul 19, 2010 Colleen rated it it was ok
I found much of the language in this book to be beautiful and poetic, but overall, many parts seemed redundant while other parts were very underdeveloped. For this being a memoir I feel like I only got a few glimpses into her life. I'm willing to try one of Hogan's novels, though.
Aug 07, 2007 Libby rated it liked it
Shelves: readbooks
"Maybe it was a place where words emerge form silences." -Linda Hogan

There is a great section on the myth of atlantis that makes it all worth it.
Kristina Amelong
Jan 24, 2015 Kristina Amelong rated it really liked it
Opening with, I remember the first time I saw the clay woman. I found my dead brother, standing in a barn, from reading her words!
Dec 11, 2010 Jpl1966 rated it it was ok
Read it for a Native American Lit course, she lived a crazy life, some interesting parts, not much of an ending though.
May 16, 2015 Scott rated it liked it
Found it difficult to get into the flow of the book, though I respect and admire her struggles, resiliency and compassion.
Nov 30, 2012 Dhali rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Reminisces and essays that made me think of old experiences in completely new ways... how often does that happen?
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Linda K. Hogan (born 1947 Denver) is a Native American poet, storyteller, academic, playwright, novelist, environmentalist and writer of short stories. She is currently the Chickasaw Nation's Writer in Residence.

Linda Hogan is Chickasaw. Her father is a Chickasaw from a recognized historical family and Linda's uncle, Wesley Henderson, helped form the White Buffalo Council in Denver during the 1950
More about Linda Hogan...

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“There are ways in, journeys to the center of life, through time; through air, matter, dream and thought. The ways are not always mapped or charted, but sometimes being lost, if there is such a thing, is the sweetest place to be. And always, in this search, a person might find that she is already there, at the center of the world. It may be a broken world, but it is glorious nonetheless.” 35 likes
“Sometimes there is a wellspring or river of something beautiful and possible in the tenderest sense that comes to and from the most broken of children, and I was one of these, and whatever is was, I can't name, I can only thank. Perhaps it is the water of life that saves us, after all.” 9 likes
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