Kristin's Reviews > The Blessing Way

The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman
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Dec 12, 11

Read from November 26 to December 12, 2011

So, Tony Hillerman's very first book? It's certainly different from the couple later ones I've read, but still totally great. I decided to start at the beginning. I gather this is the era that old Hillerman fans like the best. The ways it differed were: it was harder to follow, not as attention-grabby, a lot more action-packed, chock full of academic anthropological tidbits, and with scarce and hollow female characters. Overall, the story seemed like more of a sketch than a defined image. The main character, really, wasn't Joe Leaphorn, but rather the white dude. Maybe Hillerman got more comfortable inhabiting the Navajo as first person narrator later in his writings. Back to the scarce and hollow female characters: this really bothered me. There was only really one woman in the story, and she basically just sat there like a barbie, getting moved around by someone's hand and voiced over to mimic animation. Our main guy, Bergen McKee, had to get Ellen out of a really, REALLY bad situation that just kept getting worse, and she just let him do all of the thinking even though, um, her own LIFE was at stake moment to moment. I don't care how dumb a girl is; if she's in such a dire survival situation, she's at the very least going to do something crazy to try to save herself or come up with a half-baked plan, not just follow the guy around blinking like a cow, waiting for him to do everything. And then McKee fell in love with her, or whatever, solely because she was "pretty." Oh, and she was also the cause of their getting into the whole mess in the first place. How attractive. We're even told that McKee is down on his luck and basically desperate (or maybe we're supposed to take him as post-give-up), so you get the feeling that if the Yeti had dropped out of the sky into his path, and had some lipstick on it, he would have fallen in love (or whatever) with it, too. I don't get how that's compelling. The reader is actually, really supposed to buy that these two had something real between them. But even after their whole crazy ordeal together, they didn't even get to know each other because there was too much action going on. Okay, 1970 Hillerman. You're tentatively forgiven for this because of your later women characters, who are smart and independent, and human beings. Oddly enough, though, this isn't TOO distracting from the story. It's still all about the desert and witches*.

*= PSYCH. Not really witches! Or are they??
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