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My Name is Not Easy

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,815 ratings  ·  350 reviews
Luke knows his I'nupiaq name is full of sounds white people can't say. He knows he'll have to leave it behind when he and his brothers are sent to boarding school hundreds of miles from their Arctic village. At Sacred Heart School things are different. Instead of family, there are students -- Eskimo, Indian, White -- who line up on different sides of the cafeteria like the ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Skyscape (first published January 1st 2011)
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 ·  1,815 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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Nellie Rulland
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am an Iñupiaq, living in Barrow, Alaska. I am currently a Senior in high school. I lived in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska most of my life. I connected with this book in alot of ways. First of all, just as the people in this book went to boarding school, I also went to boarding school. I have personally experienced a lot of things that happened to the characters in the book. Even though this is a novel, it was more interesting to me because I knew that the things that the author wrote about really hap ...more
Nov 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya-kid, 2011, yabc
I am sorry to report that I did not like this book. It is a shame, because the underlying real-life events are fascinating and unique, and there are a lot of really important issues to be dealt with in this arena. But this book just didn't get there. The characters are unbelievable and don't talk or think like children. I didn't understand the motivation for almost ANY of their actions, so there were a number of plot points and choices that just came out of nowhere. The switching between perspec ...more
Inspired by real-life events of Native kids sent off to boarding school, this story was a one day read for me. The main characters are Luke, Sonny, Amiq, Donna and Chickie and they are Inuit, Native American, White students at Sacred Heart School. This school is run by Catholic priests/nuns and the relationship between them and the segregated students is one of power imbalance and abuse.

The story was really interesting, I liked the structure. There are a couple of heartbreaking moments, the boo
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5★ It was OK, I guess, but not an easy book to listen to - I kept getting confused between the characters who seemed kind of similar. It doesn't help that when I'm listening to audiobooks, it's usually when I'm doing something else with my hands or feet at the same time (hence the need for an audiobook!), so I need my audiobooks to be fairly simple and this felt a bit complicated! ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alaska
As someone who lives in rural Alaska, I can say that Debby Dahl Edwardson has accomplished a great feat with this novel: she has written with a voice that sounds exactly like the way people in rural Alaska talk. The book is extraordinary for other reasons, but the attention that she pays to the small details of how characters talk made this an immediate winner. One of the most accurate books about Alaska that I have ever read.
I have wildly mixed feelings on this book.

First of all, audiobook readers: The male reader rocks.

I liked the premise of this book a lot, and loved all the historical aspects. I learned a lot, especially in the author's note, where she tells which events in the book (most of the important ones) were based on reality. I liked how the novel showed some of the discrimination that natives in Alaska faced, both the Native Americans and Eskimos.

However, I'd be hard-pressed to find a plot in this book.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
It isn't surprising that this book was up for the National Book Award, and I expect to see it at Scott O'Dell time, too. The story is fascinating, giving us just enough of the life back on the tundra to tantalize, and never overexplaining to its readers the things that can be deducted. (One reviewer below complains because the author doesn't explain the difference between Indians and "Eskimos" [who are in conflict with each other at the boarding school], which the reviewer feels is particularly ...more
This was a part of history I had never really heard about, how the native Alaskan children were sent away to catholic schools and were given easier names, a new language and taken away from everything they knew. This is a true story written as fiction, the forward explains why it is written as such. The story is told by different people the main 2 being Eskimo boy Luke & young white motherless Chickie a young girl from a Scandinavian background, they tell a very different yet similar story both ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was quite happy when I found this book, as this is a subject that really interests me! I've read historical accounts, so I was excited to find a novel.

As for the book itself, I enjoyed it. I'm not normally a fan of the each-chapter-is-told-by-a-different-character trope, but I feel that for the most part, it worked here. I do wish the characters' voices had been a little more distinct from each other; often, I felt that if I hadn't seen the name at the start of the chapter, I wouldn't have kn
Christy Rosso
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Christy Rosso
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edwardson, D. (2011). My name is not easy. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish.
Format: Print
Selection process: NoveList
Luke Aaluk states: “My name is not easy” (Edwardson, p. 3, 2011). As an Ińupiaq Luke knows that his true name could not be pronounced by others outside of his Alaskan Native tribe, and readers never learn it in this story. Luke and his younger brothers Bunna and Isaac leave their Alaskan village to attend Sacred Hear
Ann Marie
Jan 15, 2012 rated it liked it
once again a book has opened my eyes to issues never introduced...I had no idea children in Alaska were sent away from their parents for school starting at the age of on earth did their mothers cope...
this story was difficult to get into...there were too many names - too many directions coming in at the same time...I never felt as a reader that I was in the story or watching it seemed as if no one subject was given more than a line or two...the cover states "an extraordinary
Aamaugak, or "Luke," as the staff of the Sacred Heart School insists on calling him, is an Iñupiaq student hundreds of miles of home, learning to be a "productive" member of American society through Catholic assimilation. Although the story is fiction, it is based on a number of real events, first among them the reality of BIA-funded boarding schools that housed Indian, Eskimo, and white children in various parts of rural Alaska in the 1970s.

As is the case with all stories relating to the force
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
It started out good, but kind of puttered out. The climax happened 75% through the book, so there was way too much falling action. I️ felt the romance between two of the characters was really forced. The writing was beautiful. It certainly tells a tale that America seems to hide; it’s important to know the hardships these people went through so recently.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the episodic story of several children in an Alaskan boarding school in the early 1960's. Some "indian" some "eskimo" and some white. Though surrounded by efforts to eradicate their culture, the children somehow hold on, though not without losing some of themselves.

Though I found this book well-written and compelling, I felt like my own knowledge of the history of Indian schools and the way native children were yanked out of their families to be "adopted" helped me understand the narrati
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting but disjointed tale of Inupiaq brothers sent to a Catholic school hundreds of miles from their home.

Although the book is based on mostly factual events, I felt as if there were too many things crammed into the book when just one or two of them would've been effective in telling the story. Earthquakes, tsunamis, multiple deaths, and radiation are just a few of the things that happen to the characters.

I think that if the author had focused on just a few characters (instead of writing i
Nov 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Ok so for the most part this book was slow and boring and I thought that I didn't care about the characters at all. THEN --- SPOILER ALERT ---- Bunna died and I felt horrible. Luke and Bunna were my favorite and when he died and Luke was devastated I was so sad! Those two character earned a star for this book alone. The other two stars are simply because I felt like it was about time someone wrote a book about the boarding schools and how it was for Alaskan natives during that time. ...more
I like reading biographies and being transported into another person's life. While this book is not really a biography it feels like one and transport you into a boarding school in Alaska in the 1960s. The school is for children living in remote parts of Alaska and the book talks about the different cultures of Alaska: the Iñupiaq, the Indians, and the whites and how they live and live together. ...more
Mar 19, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: liberation, ya, next
"Award-winning Barrow author caught in squeeze between bookstores, Amazon"
Hannah Heimbuch | The Arctic Sounder | Mar 18, 2012

Barrow author Debby Dahl Edwardson joined an elite group last year when her youth novel, “My Name Is Not Easy,” was named a finalist for the National Book Award. Just a few short months afterwards, she finds herself a bystander as her book is caught in the push-pull of corporate competition.
Barnes & Noble announced recently it would no longer stock the book in its stores,
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Listened to this as part of the Sync: Audiobooks for Teens program. Very good book explaining civil disobedience, the purpose of journalism, coming of age, finding yourself and your own voice in a culture you don't always understand or agree with. ...more
Joanna Marple
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it

LUKE When I go off to Sacred Heart School, they’re gonna call me Luke because Iñupiaq name is too hard. Nobody has to tell me this. I already know. I already know because when teachers try and say our real names, the sounds always get caught in their throats, sometimes, like crackers. That’s how it was in kindergarten, and in first, second, and third grade, and that’s going to be how it is in boarding school too. Teachers only know how to say easy names, like my brother Bunna’s.

My name i
Ashley Cadaret
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it
My feelings are complicated about this book. One on hand, I’m glad I read it. It was about a population of people and a perspective I don’t often read books from (teenager native Alaskans). The authors note at the end is really moving - so many of the events and atrocities against these natives were real events and I’m glad she’s sharing them to educate readers.

On the other hand, the actual writing was beautiful but SO heavy in the metaphors and what felt like trying to be elegant literature th
Magnus // Well-Read Rebel
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like history, everyone else
Recommended to Magnus // Well-Read Rebel by: My teacher
Shelves: made-me-think
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A bit confusing due to the multiple narratives, but an interesting historical fiction.

First Line:
When I go off to Sacred Heart School, they’re gonna call me Luke because my Inupiaq name is too hard, p.3.
Have you ever wondered how humans can survive living so far above the Arctic Circle? So did the U.S. military, and in the early 1960s they decided to inject children from the Sacred Heart School in Alaska with Iodine 131 to find out how their bodies survived the extreme cold. Luke
Scarlett Sims
So there were things, especially about the audio of this book, that I wasn't crazy about. BUT, I think it's an important read, in that it bring to light issues that the reader likely doesn't know about in a way I hadn't seen since Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac. The American government has done more to Indians than just taking their land, and they've done it recently.
I had heard good things about this book's accuracy in its portrayal of Native people, but if I hadn't, I would have known it was l
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Though it got off to a slow start, this story grew on me. I do have two very strong recommendations, however.

1. Do not read the "Forward" and "Author's Note" until AFTER you read the book. She talks about the fact that this is a work of fiction that is based on historical events and personal events that happened to her husband and his brothers. The problem is that she tells exactly what those events are, so several key plot points are revealed before you even meet the characters. These two parts
Alyse Erickson
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tl-307
Edwardson, D., & Ferrari, A. (2011). My name is not easy. New York: Marshall Cavendish. Print.

My Name is Not Easy starts off with Luke, Bunna, and Isaac, three Eskimo brothers, leaving for a Catholic school called Sacred Heart. When they get there, one of the priests takes Isaac away from the brothers and sends him to live in Texas on the grounds that Isaac is apparently 'too young' to go to Sacred Heart. Luke and Bunna arrive when the other kids are having lunch and this other Native American n
Claudia Hall
This book is the story of three Eskimo brothers from Alaska who are told that they need to go to school far away from home. The brothers hop on this plane and go to school at Scared Heart. One of the brothers is to young to go to school and gets taken away from the school and put into a foster care type system. The two other brother manage to survive their way through a strange new place where there is a divide between the Eskimos, the Native Americans and the Whites. The story jumps around a bi ...more
Luke knows that white people can't say his I'nupiaq name. And he knows that once he and his brothers are sent to boarding school, he'll have to leave his name behind. Things are different at Sacred Heart - there are Indians, Eskimos, and White people. The language spoken is English, and no Native languages are allowed. Luke, like everyone else, is just doing their best to survive.

What can I say about this book? Sometimes it's sad, sometimes it makes you smile, and sometimes it is just plain hea
Samantha Simmons
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: t-l-307, cultural
Luke, Chickie, Sonny, Amiq and Donna are students at Sacred Heart School that all stem from different backgrounds. Luke is the main character in the story that goes to school with his two younger brothers and is determined to look after them. This story tells the tale of all these students as they go through school and many hardships including an abusive priest and scientific testing on them. AT the end, the discover they have found a family at the school that that became more than they ever cou ...more
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is about a boy named Luke and his two brothers who are sent to boarding school. He leaves behind his family and also change his real name because it is too difficult for people to pronounce. At the boarding school the boys learn that between the races at their school there are a lot of divisions. The students all begin to realize that they live together and become a new family. The kids go through many hard times and realize that they all need eachother through these difficult times wi ...more
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My name is Debby and I am a writer. I write stories for young people.

If you haven't seen me, it's because I live far far away and do, indeed, write from the top of the world: Barrow, Alaska, to be exact, the northernmost community on the North American Continent.

I've lived here pretty much all of my adult life—thirty years (don’t do the math!) and this place and its people have shaped who I am as

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