Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Crazy Brave” as Want to Read:
Crazy Brave
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

Crazy Brave

by
4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,941 ratings  ·  434 reviews
In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the n ...more
Hardcover, 172 pages
Published July 9th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Crazy Brave, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Crazy Brave

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,941 ratings  ·  434 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Crazy Brave
Brina
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Happy International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019!

Joy Harjo is one of my favorite poets. From both Creek and Cherokee tribal nations, she writes about her people’s history with such a poignancy and grace. Harjo usually includes background information about each poem so that readers can empathize with her as she addresses current events that still plague her people to this day. When I found out that she had written a memoir I was moved to read it.

Crazy Brave is Harjo’s raw, poignant story of growin
...more
Michael
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
A contemplative memoir sketching Harjo’s journey toward becoming a woman and a poet. For much of the work she reflects on her youth, thoughtfully considering everything from the origins of her love of art to her struggle to evade her violent white stepfather, but in the final stretch she shifts to recounting her experience of early motherhood, as well as the overwhelming panic she felt in the wake of a string of abusive relationships. The end feels a bit rushed and inconclusive, but Harjo’s acco ...more
Thomas
3.5 stars

Love the raw vulnerability and commitment to art in this memoir. In Crazy Brave Joy Harjo writes about growing up with an abusive stepfather, developing her love and vision for poetry, and escaping from the cycle of abuse again later on in her life. Harjo grounds this memoir in tribal myth and ancestry. The two themes I found most compelling in Crazy Brave: overcoming abusive relationships and healing through art. Harjo writes about her family's and her own experience in abusive relatio
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I wanted to read the memoir of the U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo before I read her poetry so I was happy to find the ebook through my public library. From her childhood in Oklahoma until she was accepted into a native American arts school in Santa Fe, this is also the story of how she found her poetry voice. At times she wrote a bit obtusely about events, which felt like her taking a step back from her own experience and asking the reader to fill in the gaps. There is a lot of pain there, but als ...more
Chrissie
The GR book description states: In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world.

The author's lines describing the abusive family situation of her youth are cle
...more
V
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ate this book in a sitting. One to be passed down through generations. Hauntingly beautiful, poignant, and true. Carefully tells its own story while calmly talking of the universe.
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
3.5 stars

I've stacked several books by Joy Harjo over the last couple years but it wasn't until she was recently named our U.S. Poet Laureate that I finally grabbed this memoir from the library!

Harjo masterfully weaves her life story with tribal myth, poetry, and stream of conciousness.

From the loss of her father to abuse at the hands of her step-father, Harjo (of the Muscogee/Creek Nation) found healing as a teen at the Institute of American Indian Arts.  Later, she was able to break the patter
...more
McGuffy Morris
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have been a follower of Joy Harjo for many years. I have her books and CDs.
Her wisdom is deep, abundant and true. It is born of experience, pain and survival, though she imparts her truths with insight and clarity.

In this memoir, Joy Harjo recalls important aspects of her life. Joy’s journey in life has been a difficult one. Being of Native American heritage (though mixed), her experiences are clearly rooted in tradition and spirit. Yet, she has always felt this “knowing”. It has been her guid
...more
Neile
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love Joy Harjo's poetry, but at first when I started this it felt way too all over the place and stream of consciousness for me--but I'm glad I kept with it, as like some poems it gradually came into more and more focus as Harjo talked about her life after early childhood. The earlier images/stories began to her shape the later images and stories. It ended up feeling like an impressionistic, but vital, depiction of childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood. Not an easy read or life, but Ha ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
An unflinching but ultimately hopeful look at a hard upbringing and the legacy of Native American genocide and oppression that shaped generations after, specifically in her family. Harjo is the U.S. Poet Laureate and she shares her family story, her dreams, her failures, and her creativity in an appealing mix of spiritual/cultural exploration and memoir.
Lisa
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Joy Harjo is an amazing poet, writer, songwriter, artist and strong Native woman. Her memoir is heartbreaking and full of life at the same time. Heartbreaking because it is the story of so many native persons. Generations of trauma, generations of colonization. She stated it eloquently when she wrote: "As peoples we had been broken. We were still in the bloody aftermath of a violent takeover of our lands. Within a few generations we had gone from being nearly one hundred percent of the populatio ...more
Karen
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This one was a hit or miss for me, in the beginning especially. I enjoyed it more toward the end because she wrote about places where I'd lived in New Mexico -- Farmington in the Four Corners region, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. When she described UNM and crossing the traffic on Central Ave. I got little a nostalgic. Other times, though, it felt like I'd start to get into a story and she'd abruptly shift to a memory or a myth or a poem. I guess there's nothing wrong with a metaphorical style and no ...more
James Giddings
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystic
I love the way she covers traumatic incidents in her life briefly and matter-of-fact-ly but dwells lovingly on her visits to the spirit world and relationships with ancestors and guides. Hers has been a triumphant and successful life in spite of great personal and historic tragedies. I'm so glad to understand more of where her poetry and music are coming from.
Jacques Coulardeau
RENASCENCE FROM PTIndianGenocideSS

A short memoir on the author’s own life as a young Indian woman. As such she both lives in her own time the re-emergence of Indian Tribes and Nation – and was as an Indian very lucky to be able to integrate the Indian cultural Center of Santa Fe as a high school students – and the women’s liberation movement within the Indian tribes and nation – and was as a woman very unlucky with her father, her stepfather, her submissive mother and her successive boyfriends a
...more
Amy (Other Amy)
I played with garter snakes, horned toads, frogs, June bugs, and other creatures. Some of my favorite playmates were roly-poly bugs. They busied about with several legs and didn't trip themselves up. They protected themselves when threatened by curling into a ball. As we played, I could see the light shining around their little armored bodies.

Roly-polys! This is like an automatic 5 star from me! OK, no, I will be good. 3.5 stars overall. I must say I really enjoyed this book, maybe more so becau
...more
Pam Bustin
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book came in the mail, this morning, from a friend.

I got my partner to drive home, so that I could rip open the envelope and begin reading.Crazy Brave: A Memoir
Something in this woman calls to me.

I just finished the book and ... Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ... So grateful to Sian who sent Joy's words winging across the miles to me.

What do I love most? The straightforward way that she weaves the day to day and the mythical/spiritual and oh the poetry.

Three small tastes, to whet your....desire....


From Page
...more
Sherri
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this in a single sitting. I didn't intend to, I had things to do but all that fell away when I began to read. Even now I have things to do but they don't seem as important; Wal-Mart can wait.

I plan to buy and give copies of this book to my sisters and a couple of friends. There is so much truth, pain, beauty and humor in this tiny book. I found myself laughing out loud at some paragraphs, outraged at others and feeling the same sadness Harjo recalls in others. She writes simply and beaut
...more
Tina Cipolla
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Joy Harjo is a fixture among college English majors. Somehow I managed not to read her until now, and I'm sorry I waited. This memoir was touching, realistic and honest. She paints a vivid picture of her life growing up in the American West in the 60s, and no matter your cultural background this book resonates. I was rooting for her on the whole way; I found her both likable and courageous. Harjo takes a hard look at some very difficult, if almost universal, issues (poverty, child abuse, incest, ...more
Erik Caswell
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I needed to read this book. And am so grateful for having done so.

Joy Harjo's insights into her life and the world it's embedded in, one tethered to ancestors, spiritual messages, and all the grief & power that comes along with--in her words--the knowing, are at once harrowing and healing. She recently was named the first Native American Poet Laureate, of the Muscogee Nation, in the history of the U.S. This memoir shows the time of her youth as one in which, while a resurgence of Native energy,
...more
Amy Layton
Joy Harjo is a master of words, able to weave meaning and lyricism into the story of her life.  Despite adverse conditions from the get go and travelling from one abusive household to another, her efforts did not go unnoticed by friends and other family members.  

Told in four parts--childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood (additionally North, South, East, and West though not necessarily in that order) her own manner of storytelling resists that of the colonizer's storytelling stru
...more
Marisa Fairbanks
Stunning in every way!
ElphaReads
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
(originally reviewed at elphareads.tumblr.com )

I love me a good memoir. Reading books about other people’s lives with a focused theme or style is much more appealing to me than biographies or even autobiographies, because to me it feels like memoirs have a lot of emotional charge to them a fair amount of the time. CRAZY BRAVE by Jo Harjo is no exception. I will admit that when I tossed CRAZY BRAVE on my request list, I had no idea who Jo Harjo was. I soon found out that she was an American In
...more
Jessica
The U.S. poet laureate's memoir reverberates with language that reads like English, but seems to come from a world Harjo has created for herself. And that may very well be the case; Harjo's story of her life brims with hardship and heartaches, yet it never ekes a moment of pity. She frames her memoir with cardinal directions and prose that explains what they represent to the earth, to people, to herself. Her lyrical storytelling invites you in while she illustrates ancestral trauma, abuse, famil ...more
lesley
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Could probably recommend this to every person I know for a different reason.
Malcolm
I have a dear, dear friend of many decades standing, who convinced (I suspect) that far too much of my reading is for work and not enough is for the elegance and eloquence of the word has the best taste in gifts. Most recently the gifted books included this spectacular memoir by the current US poet laureate – and it demonstrates why she holds that post. Crucially, this is not the memoir of a poet, but of a becoming poet, ending when she comes to poetry as a form of expression pushing through a p ...more
Gronk
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Harjo's journey to becoming a poet. Three things fascinated me:
1. Her life was full of sorrow and hardship yet she seems full of joy and light.
2. Her experience with the spiritual/mystical world, so different from mine, so foreign to me, is moving.
3. Her prose is moving. Examples:

He was down about the anniversary of the death of his best friend, who had been his idol. He had been the only man from a pueblo to finish law school at the university, and he fought the U.S. legal system b
...more
Mark
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
“A story matrix connects all of us.
There are rules, processes, and circles of responsibility in this world. And the story begins exactly where it is supposed to begin. We cannot skip any part.” 

“I am born of brave people and we were in need of warriors.”

I discovered Harjo, through her poetry, recently finishing In Mad Love and War. It was a collection, I immediately fell in love with and once, I learned she had penned a memoir, I knew I had to read it. It did not disappoint. Harjo was born in O
...more
Herman
This is such a good book I don't know where to begin. It makes me recall my own childhood and with the joy of a child I want to run up and share with someone my love of this book. I want to give a copy to my friends and read this again with my wife and read it to my daughter and have my son read it to me. I love her use of language and her life story is compelling, I have to read more from her
anyone who can write like this it's a waste of my time not to be reading her.

"Once the world was perfe
...more
ديجا
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.

poets be writing the best memoirs... phew. before she was a poet Harjo was a poet. I just ate this right up, because im obsessed with life before self-consciousness, before pathological categorization, and how the storyteller chooses to give language to that life. i loved the sheer insistence (and glorious proof!) that anxiety is not the opposite of resilience. when survivors tell their stories it is so healing. oh i rejoiced with her
...more
John Nez
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read that Joy Harjo shares my birthday by only 3 days, I was intrigued.

When I read how Joy Harjo started out as an art major, making pictures, I could understand... that’s what I did too.

When I read that Joy had a breakdown in college and felt totally lost and alone, I thought, me too. I finished my degree on a state scholarship and was broke and penniless for years too.

But when I read about the amazing journey of making a life out of words, I thought me too... only I did it by running
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers
  • The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir
  • In the Lateness of the World: Poems
  • Heart Berries
  • NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field
  • Les falaises
  • Le Regard féminin - Une révolution à l'écran
  • Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers
  • Riding the White Horse Home: A Western Family Album
  • The Tiny Journalist
  • Les soeurs de Blackwater
  • The Night Watchman
  • Sacrées Sorcières
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
  • Verge: Stories
  • In the Dream House: A Memoir
  • The Water Dancer
  • Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
See similar books…
682 followers
Bio Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She has released four award-winning CD's of original music and won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year. She performs nationally and internationally solo and with her band, The Arrow Dynamics. She has appeared on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, in venues in every major U.S. city and
...more

Related Articles

Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman know the radical life-changing power of a good friendship. The two launched their hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend ...
19 likes · 3 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“A story matrix connects all of us.
There are rules, processes, and circles of responsibility in this world. And the story begins exactly where it is supposed to begin. We cannot skip any part.”
30 likes
“She exists in me now, just as I will and already do within my grandchildren. No one ever truly dies. The desires of our hearts make a path. We create legacy with our thoughts and dreams.” 15 likes
More quotes…