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Crazy Brave

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,645 ratings  ·  243 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
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,645 ratings  ·  243 reviews

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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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
(originally reviewed at )

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 Indi
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
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
Audible memoirs read by the author are quickly becoming a HEAR the author say her own words, with the exact emphasis, inflection, she intended is a gift. But the down side is not SEEING the words on the page. I'll be getting the kindle version also so I can see.

This is a book that needs to sit next to I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. Two towering talents whose childhoods did not necessarily hit at their gifts. Two little girls who struggled with relationships, who watched and wond
Esther Bradley-detally
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a fusion of worlds and dimensions, wrapped in prose which speaks of a hard, hard upbringing. Harjo's love of language shines through, as her courage and her perseverance reveals she is clearly a lover of language, people, and life. There is much honor portrayed within these pages; don't miss it.
This was a nice memoir but the story didn't really interest me.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poetic and beautifully written book by Harjo. This book explores her youth and young adulthood.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Despite her difficult family circumstances as a child, she followed the "voice" and found her soul purpose in poetry. Her writing is indeed like poetry that gives readers high vibration.
Craig Werner
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: native-american
Crazy Brave reads like part one of what I hope will be a two or three volume series, following Harjo's life from her (to say the least) difficult childhood in Tulsa through her connection with Native aesthetics and cultural traditions at the American Indian Arts Institute in Santa Fe which she attended during the vibrant awakening of the 1960s to her embrace of her poetic (and later musical) vocation. As a result of the cut-off, the book reads as a sort of "prelude," spiced up with excerpts from ...more
Kyle Aisteach
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I erred on the side of giving this one the fourth star because it really is hauntingly beautiful, but I tend to think of it as a 3.5-star book.

Harjo weaves together memory, fantasy, fiction, and poetry like an artist painting with various colors of sand. The lines blur (or are deliberately smeared), creating a narrative that could only have come from the mind of a poet.

Ultimately, however, this blending of narrative becomes one of the book's greatest weaknesses. Harjo doesn't only pull the stren
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took Joy Harjo fourteen years to write her memoir Crazy Brave. In it she tells of her parent’s tumultuous marriage. Her beautiful mother opposes her father, traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma in search of a mate. When young, her father had been sent to a military academy where he “learned anger as a method to control sensitivity.” The violent marriage ends, and an abusive step-father steps in and consumes the family. At sixteen, when her stepfather tries to send her to a Christian boarding school, ...more
Jul 07, 2012 added it
I didn't want to stop reading, but I had to sleep. Beautiful to see this writer's life unfold. Joy believes in her visions and sees earth and our universe as pulsing entities very much linked in harmony at every level.
Yet in finishing this book, Joy also showed the injustices of a life growing up in the shadow of racial and gender discrimination, alcoholism, poverty, meanness and hautedness, which does not immediately speak of harmony. I think back to her poem, "Reconcilliation" in stanza 2 whe
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, review
Poet and Native American Jo Harjo writes lyrically about her difficult childhood in the Midwest. Her stepfather was an abusive alcoholic; she faced extreme challenges as a Native American and pretty much raised two children on her own. While she recalls these horrific moments in her past she’s also hauntingly philosophical and forgiving. She writes: “In the end, we must each tend to our own gulf of sadness, though others can assist us with kindness, food, good words, and music. Our human tendenc ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Crazy Brave is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. Joy Harjo has an incredible ability to see to the heart of things. She expresses herself in ways that are woven with the ways of her people, and conveys the sadness of what has happened to Native Americans with hope, renewal, anger, love, compassion, and joy. This book is as multifaceted and diverse as Harjo herself. I felt like I was having a conversation with a friend who was relating her experiences without any self-pity...that is a rare ...more
Lisa Beaulieu
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Joy Harjo is a poet, not a memoirist - this is not your average memoir - and since I hate memoir and love Joy Harjo, that was a good thing. She skims over the facts and dwells in the poetry, and takes us also to those mysterious places the poetry comes from - the moon (I kid you not!) and an underwater place full of alligators ... the other dimensions are as fleshed out, no, more fleshed out, than the narrative thread. She sees everything and everyone with a poet's eye - it's a fascinating look ...more
Cathryn Wellner
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Harjo's memoir reads like a book-length poem, lyrical and flowing. I was caught up in it from the first page and read it in one sitting. In spite of abuse, poverty, neglect, and despair, Harjo has emerged as a noted poet, playwright, and musician. The book ends long before her soaring career made her one of America's most beloved poets, but it takes her through one of the most extraordinary stories of overcoming fears I have ever read. She has turned a harsh and troublesome past into a life of c ...more
Gail Kearns
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Crazy Brave was a poignant, sensitive, and riveting read. Poetic. Harjo's trajectory to becoming a fully realized artist was at times harrowing but also tender. The telling of her young and teenage years of angst resonated with me. The anger she portrays of the Native American culture (and rightfully so) brought me to tears. I was touched by her honesty and I didn't want this slim volume to end. I'm now a devotee and will read more of her work, which I gather is mainly poetry. Since I love poetr ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. I loved the fact that this book wasn't a traditional biography type book. I found it to be inspirational, spiritual and poetic. It was easily read in just a few short hours and I wish it had been a larger book. I especially loved the Eagle Poem and I'm not a big poetry fan. I plan on picking up a few of her poetry books. The only downsides were that I wished the book had been longer and had included more about her music.
Patricia Mccrystal
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Part poem, part memory, and part imagining, artist Joy Harjo’s memoir echoes through you like a song rippling through the ages. Manifesting elements of Indigenous storytelling and summoning symbols from Muscogee/Creek mysticism, Crazy Brave is related with a vision and lyricism unparalleled by any memoir before it.
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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
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“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.”
“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.” 5 likes
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