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Hidden Roots

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Hidden Roots tells the story of 11-year-old Sonny, a shy boy whose father's sudden rages are becoming more and more frequent. The love of his fragile mother, the support and protection of his Uncle Louis, and an unexpected friendship with a librarian help Sonny gain the confidence to confront hidden family secrets and discover the truth about his Native American roots, and ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Scholastic Press
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Stefanie Garcia Well, you could read this page, or you can look on the front pages of the book. Every book has its copyright info there. 2004

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3.72  · 
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 ·  322 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Middle Grade Readers
Set in western New York State during the 1950s, Hidden Roots opens with eleven-year-old Sonny's reflection that he had always known there was something different about his mother, and by extension, his whole family. His mother's heartbreaking advice, that he should always be careful, and never let himself be "crept up on," is as apt an introduction to this short novel about a family's secrets, as it is possible to achieve.

Sonny struggles to understand the relationships between his perpetually a
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sonny is a lonely 11-year old who lives in a not so peaceful household. He is picked last on the playground during basketball games, doesn't have many friends at school, and his father can be violent, working long hours at the paper plant in town. Sonny’s so called Uncle Louis visits often while his father is at work, showing him the wilderness and providing him with the comfort he doesn’t receive from his own father. Sonny finds solace in reading and the wonderful librarian who looks after him ...more
Mrs. Peoples
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredibly complex book. Just when you think you have things figured out you get thrown a curve ball. Just when you think you have figured out the curve ball you get hit right in the face with the hidden roots. Weird part about it is the hidden roots were unfolding in front of your face the entire just couldn't see it. Once the hidden roots are revealed you can not stop reading. You have to re-evaluate everything.

Joseph Bruchac does a wonderful job of making the reader in
Jessica Breighner
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Hidden Roots
1. Brief Summary
Once upon a time and place, there were people who thought it was alright to get rid of undesirable people through sterilization. So they passed laws that made it okay to surgically fix those undesirable people so they couldn't reproduce and create more people that would be considered undesirable to those who had passed the laws.The time was 1932. The place was Vermont, in the United States of America.
Hidden Roots follows five months in the life of young Howard Camp
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Published February 1st 2004 by Scholastic Press
Interest Level: 6th-8th Grade

Hidden Roots is a book that focuses on the life and treatment of Native Americans near Vermont during the 1950’s and the forced sterilization of the Native American population that occurred in the 1930’s. This story is about a boy named Sonny and his family heritage that he is largely unaware of for the majority of the book. Sonny continues to struggle with his identity, place in the community, and fractured family, thro
Amy Layton
This was such a poignant book, and it accomplished its message in a way so appropriate for its audience. I mean, none of this book is light-hearted, though it often appears so. It highlights the American government’s historical revisionism, the racism and forced sterilization of Native Americans, the struggles that forcibly integrated Native Americans face, not to mention the family struggles Sonny goes through.

All of it was just so wonderful and amazing, and it really reinforced what I’d learne
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Hidden Roots”
Eleven year old Sonny lives in upstate New York with his parents. He is an outsider, who doesn't quite fit in. While Sonny's father is distant and angry, his mother and "Uncle Louis" are very loving and supportive. But Sonny's family is keeping a dark secret, one which could greatly impact Sonny and his future. A secret that is tearing his family apart.
"Hidden Roots", winner of the 2003 American Indian Youth Literature Award, is most appropriate for middle school students (grades
Scarlett Sims
This book is aimed at upper elementary or maybe low YA, which leads me to my biggest complaint about it. If it had been a book aimed at high-schoolers, I feel it could have gone into much more depth about the subject matter. However it had to be almost glossed over. The cover and title make it seem like a disturbing horror novel, but it's not.

My other complaint is kind of my own fault. Part of the book's enjoyment comes from information being slowly revealed over the course of the story. However
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac is a moving story about a young, teenager named Sonny and his broken family. A secret lingers over the family and is not revealed until almost the end of the story. We know that Sonny’s father, Jake is troubled and takes his anger out on his mother. The soft, loving nature comes from Sonny’s mother and Uncle Louis. The real world teaching comes from Uncle Louis, as he tries to mold and shape Sonny into an intelligent, hard working young man with a sense of culture. ...more
Mary Hoch
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1native-american
Young Sonny struggled through childhood with an angry father, while trying to remain unnoticed at school. His loving mother and uncle, however, provide him with a solid foundation. As Sonny grows up, he discovers acceptance from his peers, while eventually learning about his family history and true Native American culture. He learns how the past has been the source of his father's anger and why his family has buried it. Over time, they bond together and begin to overcome as a family.

The author
Jennifer Mangler
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grades
Hidden Roots is a heartbreaking book about events that are too easily forgotten. Reading this in the winter of 2016, when we've seen so many ugly acts of racism and the Standing Rock Sioux have had to fight so hard to protect their water and tribal lands gives it extra poignancy and urgency. Bruchac has written a powerful story that more people should read.
Edwina Callan
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2014
A beautifully written coming-of-age story.
I enjoyed each and every page.
Short easy read dealing with a bit of the eugenics movement in VT from a Native American perspective. A rare topic in children's books - this one is really just the story of a young boy and his family. Woven in between: the effects of war and missing a war, domestic violence stemming from anger issues, family secrets and more. Not too heavy handed which I was surprised by. Could be a good book for many of my students, but they never take it off the shelf. I'll have to booktalk it.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book while searching for YA books that feature Native American children that I could incorporate into my seventh grade language arts class. While I liked this story, I couldn’t get past all of the errors in the book. The lack of editing is very unfortunate (“f” for “of”, “an” where it should be “a”, “know” in place of “no”, “as” instead of “at”, periods instead of question marks...the list goes on and on). I cannot in good conscience teach this novel to my seventh graders.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short book, but good. Sonny and his family comes to terms with their hidden roots as Native Americans. Touches on the discrimination and illegal sterilization of indigenous men and women in America. Intergenerational trauma. Healing through confronting the past and talking openly about it.
Ms. Stephens
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
LOVED this book!
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well done coming of age about an important age in our country.
Avery Jones
Hidden Roots discusses a lot of interestingly complex topics at a level for younger readers. The main character, Howard, is only 11-years old but has been through enough to make him mature for his age. His father has bursts of rage that can get violent, his mother is quiet except for when she tells Howard to always be alert in case "they" come, and his Uncle Louis is very knowledgeable about the ways of the Indians from Vermont. As Howard becomes more aware of his place in the world, he learns a ...more
I enjoyed reading the book Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac more for the historical background that it provided rather than the plot, which was a little slow to develop. Sonny, the book's protagonist, is coming of age in this story and beginning to realize that there is a lot he doesn't know or understand about his family. A curious boy, he notices the subtle actions of the people around him and struggles to make meaning of it all. He thinks often of the Native American people living just outside ...more
CH13_Meghan Schultz
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Written by Joseph Bruchac, Hidden Roots tells the story of Sonny, a young boy living in 1950s Vermont. While Howard knows he is different from others he cannot articulate those differences. Sonny’s abusive father wreaks havoc on the familial unit until Sonny’s Uncle Louis comes to stay. Through Sonny’s relationship with his uncle, Sonny is able to discover his hidden roots and better understand the differences he feels.

At first read this Hidden Roots seems to be about such topics as: physical an
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: native-american
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 18, 2011 added it
Shelves: mc-literature
Hidden Roots is about a young, Native American boy named Sonny growing up in the state of New York. Sonny's life is a rough one. His Native American roots make him subject to ridicule at school, his mother is abused and "not like the other mom's at school", and his father is an alcoholic who works around the clock at a paper mill. In the beginning of the story you get the sense that there is no silver lining in Sonny's life. Then the reader is introduced to Uncle Louis who we find out later is r ...more
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sonny is a kid who tries to be low key. He is this way because he is picked on at school and he and his mother are abused by his father. His father has violent outbursts and hits them at times. Sonny finds comfort and security from his Uncle Louis. Uncle Louis is a man who worked as a hired hand for his mother's parents when she was young. As it turns out Sonny's parents don't want people to know about their true ethnicity. As the story unfolds we find out that Uncle Louis is actually Sonny's gr ...more
Bianca Rosa-Aviles
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although Sonny is uncertain why his sometimes-abusive father is so angry and what secret his mother is keeping from him, eleven-year-old Sonny knows that he is different from his classmates in their small New York town. A terrible accident costs Sonny's father part of his right hand. Sonny believes that his father loves him and his mother and so he keeps their abuse a secret from the world. They seem to all be used to secrets. He doesn’t know why his father is so intent that he doesn’t have a re ...more
Oct 01, 2009 rated it liked it
1. Summary: Sonny is an eleven-year-old boy that has a lot of questions for his elders around him, but can never get any answers. He has a father that gets angry in an instant and Sonny can never be sure what might set him off. Sonny loves his Uncle Louis and always looks forward to him coming around – but he knows his father does not approve for some reason and, yet, his mother adores Uncle Louis. Sonny develops into his adolescence and slowly, but surely, learns the family secrets that were th ...more
Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catalog
11-yr-old Sonny lives with his mother and father up near the Canadian border. Theirs isn't a peaceful household, given his father Jake's sudden rages, which can turn physical in an instant. Sonny's refuge is his mother, and his uncle Louis, a quiet, wise old man who seems to always appear when Sonny and his mother need help most. Jake hates when Louis comes around, but luckily he works long hours at the nearby paper mill. Through an unexpected friendship with a new school librarian, Son
Ci546_tyara Simpson
Sep 11, 2010 is currently reading it
Shelves: mc-literature
As I continue reading this book, I can't help but think about the state of mind that Howard, the protagonist, must have throughout this entire experience in his childhood. Even as he tells the story from his point of view, he seems to have much more of a mature mind than that of a young person who may have had an "ideal childhood". It is as if these events brought about this sort of maturity in his character. Perhaps, it is not entirely maturity, but more of a solemn nature adapted into his per ...more
Britt Kitko
Summary: 11-yr-old Sonny lives with his mother and father up near the Canadian border. Theirs isn't a peaceful household, given his father Jake's sudden rages, which can turn physical in an instant. Sonny's refuge is his mother, and his uncle Louis, a quiet, wise old man who seems to always appear when Sonny and his mother need help most. Jake hates when Louis comes around, but luckily he works long hours at the nearby paper mill. Through an unexpected friendship with a new school librarian, Son ...more
Sonny is 11 years old and he has to live a life of secrets, of not asking the questions he wants to ask. They could make his father angry and when he becomes angry, he can be violent too.
But Sonny has the love of his mother and his uncle is also there when they need it most. But there are so many questions Sonny wants to ask, so many things he doesn't know about their family. Sonny often wonders if he'll ever know the source of his father's anger and why he's not allowed to talk about certain th
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
A very interesting book. It was good and read quickly and represented Native Americans well. I think that the presentation of the sterilization of Native Americans was handled interestingly and although it didn't go into depth necessarily, for a children's book, this book covered a lot of serious issues including domestic violence and indigenous issues. What I found most interesting was the treatment of domestic violence. I felt that in the main text of the book (although the author condemns it ...more
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Joseph Bruchac lives with his wife, Carol, in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him. Much of his writing draws on that land and his Abenaki ancestry. Although his American Indian heritage is only one part of an ethnic background that includes Slovak and English blood, those Native roots are the ones by wh ...more
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