Liz's Reviews > The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir

The Woman Who Watches Over the World by Linda Hogan
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's review
Dec 15, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 4-star, american-indian-and-indigenous-writ, adult-non-fiction, own, class-introduction-to-women-s-and-g
Read in December, 2009

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 her works, as it's Hogan's memoir and explains who she is. However, this isn't just Hogan's memoir, but a memoir of her people.

If I had to summarize this book in one sentence, I would say it's about Hogan's experiences growing up and living as an American Indian in America. Hogan places a lot of emphasis on family and tradition and how traditions are passed down. She covers a lot of serious and explicit subject matter in this work. It is true that in some ways, non-American Indian readers might relate to certain areas of this book, such as the difficulty of passing down tradition through generations.

However, as a white reader, one really isn't supposed to be able to connect with this book. To me, this whole book is about the problems that resulted because white people wanted to kick American Indians off American soil. It's about the oppression of a race. It's not only a great lesson in American history, but a reminder that American Indians still don't have great lives.

Hogan writes a considerable amount about spirituality and uses intimate diction in her work. She writes about spiritual connections with land and place which no white man can have--I know I've felt connected with nature before, but not quite to the extreme that Hogan does, if that's even the word I'm looking for. This may sounds like an alienating thing, but to me it wasn't. American Indians and Americans have had very different relationships with the land, such as using every part of the buffalo versus building railroads for ourselves on the land. I found the spiritual aspects of this work to be eye-opening, and I think it's important for Americans to become more educated about American Indian culture, because understanding their relationship to the land versus ours helps us understand how we repress them and what we can do to make it right.

On the back of this book, there is a quote from Hogan saying, "I sat down to write a book about pain and ended up writing about love." At many points in the work Hogan talks about how much more she and those around her thrived in a loving atmosphere. At the end of her book, she doesn't give her reader an exact call to action, but I thought her call to action was to love. Learn more about other cultures that exist in the same country as your own. Learn to love them, and gain a better understanding of they want and need to live happier lives. I think we should not only take action on our own to get this education, but works like Hogan's help with this process, and maybe eventually there will be more love between races, instead of oppression.
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Reading Progress

12/15/2009 page 152
67.86% "Very good, and I want to finish this tonight, but I'm tired."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Hayes (new)

Hayes This does look good... on to TBR it goes!

message 2: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz It is! I should have a review of it posted later today or tonight.

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