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

Hidden Roots

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  84 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
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 Hidden Roots, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  334 ratings  ·  84 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hidden Roots
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
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
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,
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
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.
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 L.
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: 2014, bookcrossing
A beautifully written coming-of-age story.
I enjoyed each and every page.
Nov 01, 2019 marked it as to-read
In this book i notice howard is trying to find himself. another thing i notice is that most of the book is in howard's house. The setting changes then and there like when howard goes to school. On page 11 you can see howard's mom it terrified of his dad. Also on page 11 the charters say ‘’I asked in a soft as moms she said it's safe. Throw out the story howard tells the readers how is dad is strange and how he barely shows his emotions.

The story shows how howard's dad is always causing trouble
Oct 19, 2019 added it
The threat in hidden roots is Howard’s dad and his bullies had. Howard’s dad is physically abusive. He hit Howard’s mom in front of him. Which is one of the reasons Howard doesn’t like him,because of his anger issues you can tell Howard is scared of him because over the little things that he does he thinks his dad is going to yell at him for it. He was getting bullied in school by his peers. He never talked back he would just let them say what they wanted. One day he was at school and someone ...more
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.
Macy Davis
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
1) This book is heavy, but hopeful
2) Joseph Bruchac tells about something in history, the Vermont Eugenics Project, that I'd never even known about before
3) The way in which Bruchac tells this story, and informs Sonny of his identity is so incredibly skillful
4) This book could lead to some really interesting conversations about transgenerational trauma and I hope that when we discuss this book in my children's literature class that this subject comes up somehow.
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.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The book Hidden roots has one main setting and one other secondary setting. The main setting is located in the chaotic household of Howard and his parents. The secondary setting is the school in which Howrd the protagonist atttends. The Historical c0nflict comes from his father but affects the family as a whole. The historical conflict is in the vietnam era, the father was affected by this because when sent back home for a short period of time he had a bike accident. This accident caused him a ...more
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.
Jeanie Phillips
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reread this for an upcoming podcast. Still a quiet, reflective novel that connects to Vermont's ugly history with eugenics. Looking forward to discussing it with a local scholar.
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
Oct 18, 2019 added it
The setting of the story takes place in Upstate New York. The time is around the 1950’s. It was during the time of the Vietnam war. The historical conflict is a small town in New York has war concerns. Except Howie’s family background. Howie is clueless to his father's actions which are physically and verbally abusing him and his mom.

Howie’s personal back story is that he was an Abenaki Indian and not white. That’s why uncle Louis always talked about the indians. Uncle Louis was the person to
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
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 ...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 ...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 ...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 ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Arrival
  • Eva
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
  • Rainbow Jordan
  • Hearts Unbroken
  • I Am the Cheese
  • Look Both Ways
  • The Year of the Dog
  • The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, #1)
  • How I Became a Ghost
  • The White Mountains
  • Midwinterblood
  • Permanent Record
  • Happy Endings Are All Alike
  • Have Space Suit—Will Travel
  • Tom's Midnight Garden
  • Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1)
  • Thirsty
See similar books…
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 ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »