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We Are the Warriors

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Blake's been stoked to compete in snowboarding and hang out with his friends for his junior year in Bozeman, Montana. Now instead, he's thrust into the middle of a culture he doesn't understand and among people he doesn't know. How did he end up in the middle of Sandstone Bluffs Indian Reservation? From the minute Larry Big Lip shoves him in the back while checking out football gear, he realizes life at Powder River High won't be easy, but he's not going to let anyone shove him around.


First published December 16, 2014

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About the author

Theresa Nichols Schuster

3 books4 followers
Days spent wandering the banks of the Yellowstone River for most of Schuster's childhood, instilled in her a deep appreciation for the wonder and power of nature. Her adult life for thirty years was spent living and working on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation in remote northeastern Montana. Her young adult novel, We Are the Warriors, is set on a fictitious southeastern Montana reservation. Theresa continues to be awed by the power of human beings to change and adapt, as well as the ability of our world to heal and invigorate. Now living in Bozeman with her husband, she immerses herself in the mountains, prairies, and community life that abounds in Montana.

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Soobie's heartbroken.
6,114 reviews112 followers
August 23, 2018
I liked it because I learned a lot about the way the Native Americans live but I didn't like the story it tells.

First I've got a vital question: For the past decade or so it seems that you should call the people who lived in the US before 1492 Native American because Indian was sort of derogatory. Still the author uses the word Indian throughout the book. I know politically correct is a slippery subject but which word should I use in the case I need to discuss about Native Americans?

Apart from that...

It really doesn't happen anything in this book. Or, better said, those few events that happens do so out of the blue. I don't know how to explain this but I felt like it was just something happening for no reason at all. Just to take up room on the page. I mean, meaningless words, meaningless words, meaningless words, jeez something happens, meaningless words, meaningless words, meaningless words...

The two chapter about football were as boring as math classes. As an Italian, I don't know jack about football rules and reading about it was not funny at all. But football didn't really add anything to the story. Pole vault was a bit more relevant, since it plays a big role towards the ending. Well, when I read about it, I got a bit envious: no school in Italy would be able to provide pole vault lessons to their kids. Lack of equipment, I'd say; but also too many liability for the teachers.

I like the part about Blake being diabetic (he kind of reminds me of Stacey from The Baby-Sitters Club) but it was repetitive. People around Blake keep asking what can he do being diabetic and he also gives the same answers.

The best part was learning about the life in the reservation but it felt a bit like preaching. Interesting but unengaging.

It seems the book tackles a lot of topics but can't really flesh them out.

The author should have spaced out paragraphs more. Sometimes I was reading and the scene changed abruptly and without a blank space to mark the change. So confusing.
Profile Image for Lorraine Montgomery.
314 reviews13 followers
April 17, 2015
It seems that for a little while anyway, I am destined to read stories that have to do with racism, discrimination, and bigotry. While this isn't the entire thrust of this first novel by Theresa Nichols Schuster, it does weave its way through the story as Blake Newman tries to find his place and his future in his first year living on Sandstone Bluffs Reservation in eastern Montana. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blake Newman lives in Bozeman, Montana where he is a serious contender in snowboarding competitions and attends high school with friends he has known since kindergarten. He loves the freedom of flying through the air, hitting the white powder on the slopes, and working at Taco Bell. He is good at sports and has a talent and eye for art. The last thing he wants is for his dad to take a job as principal at rez high school on the "hot, dry, brown, and flat" landscape surrounding the tiny town of Powder River. From the very beginning, we see Blake struggling to understand why his parents would want this move; he can only see his own side of things. It is even more complicated by the facts he learns about the battle of the Little Bighorn -- how the soldiers shot down women and children, and how the Lakota and Cheyenne took scalps, and then the women punctured the eardrums of the dead -- and the way "the dark brown skin of the other patrons [in Pete's Pizza] pressed in on him in a physically tangible way." Moving here is the last thing in the world he wants! Until he meets Nicki!

I was caught up in the story right from the beginning. Blake and his family are at the Little Bighorn Memorial site, having arrived a day early for the interviews both his parents have -- his father for the principalship of the high school (PRHS) and his mother with Indian Health Services (IHS). I hadn't read very far before I got on the Internet to learn more about the site and to see photos of the "outlines of Indian warriors stretching up into the sky . . . in a large circular area made of stones". They are stunning. I also found it interesting that Blake is a diabetic, and though he had some trouble coming to grips with it in the past, he is quite competent at determining his sugar levels, how much insulin to take, and giving himself shots. The snake with syringe tattooed on his hip, helped him accept his situation.

Blake goes out for the football team and right away makes a friend and an enemy. One of the coaches, Coach Walks Alone, is also the art teacher, and Blake likes him right from the start. The title of the book comes from the huge painting on the lobby wall -- "a large orange-and-black drawing of the head of an Indian warrior. Beneath it was "We Are the Warriors". He soon recognizes some of the classic problems among reservation young people -- drugs and alcohol. He also quickly realizes that some natives don't want him there and some of the whites are totally intolerant of natives. He found it strange the way there was tribal law and city, state, and federal laws which were different and applied according to whether or not you are registered on the reservation. At first, he just wants to be back in Bozeman, but then he wonders if he and Nicki can overcome cultural differences and have a future together. He's confused. His friend Jordan gets him thinking about a "vision quest" to help him get a balanced outlook on who he is and what he should do.

This is a great story to help young people learn more about different cultures and about learning to accept others. The snowboarding, football, and track and field sequences are all exciting and authentic. The various concepts of culture are presented in a meaningful way, along with all the angst of being a teenager anywhere, white or native, coping with the pressures that entails. I loved the art trip to the big city and then to the Pictograph Caves; it's great when you read about teachers (even fictional ones) who put themselves out to enrich the lives of their students.

Theresa Nichols Schuster lives in Bozeman, Montana and spent 30 years living, working, and playing on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation in remote northeast Montana in Wolf Point. This is a great 'coming of age' read, especially for boys. Read more about the author's ideas at http://wp.me/p4DMf0-Bk
Profile Image for Mary Thornburg.
Author 24 books11 followers
January 12, 2015
"We Are the Warriors" opens at the Little Big Horn Battlefield in southeastern Montana. Sixteen-year-old Blake, with his parents and older brother, have stopped to sightsee on their way to the small town of Powder River, on an Indian reservation, where Blake's father will be employed as the new high school principal. Blake is alternately bored and horrified at the scene, the graves, the reminders of the famous battle where George Armstrong Custer and his troops were in effect massacred in their ill-fated part of the attempt to end Native Americans' resistance against the encroachment of European-Americans into their lands and their way of life.

Mostly, Blake is angry. He's lived all his life in the small, affluent city of Bozeman. Now he's going to be separated from his friends and made to spend his junior year at a new school, among people he knows nothing about, but who he suspects will not be his friends. He'll have to give up – or at least to postpone – his dreams of becoming a world-class snowboarder. He thinks his parents have no right to plunge him helplessly into a situation he knows he'll hate.

The battlefield, complete with Blake's mixed reaction to it, is an appropriate setting for the opening scene of this novel, which throughout explores ambiguous conflict – between Blake and some of his schoolmates, between Blake and his parents, and most of all within Blake himself.

I'll confess here that I'm seldom a big fan of YA fiction (with the exception of some of the greats – Lois Lowry, Christopher Paul Curtis, etc.). Too often, even when a YA novel is concerned with personal difficulties and dilemmas that concern teenagers themselves, the characters seem to me to be sort of lifelike puppets, moving in the directions that the adult author has decided they ought to move. "We Are the Warriors" DOES NOT strike me this way! The characters are real, and I totally believe in them. The adults make mistakes, but I can see they are struggling to do and say the right things. The kids are real kids, up one day and down the next, fighting to see their way forward into growing up. Blake is sometimes a jerk, sometimes confused, sometimes too sure of himself and sometimes not sure enough, but he has a good heart and he is, finally, a hero worthy of being at the center of this novel.

And I loved the way the book ended.

Highly recommended, for teen AND adult readers!
969 reviews5 followers
May 17, 2015
WE ARE THE WARRIORS by Theresa Schuster tells the story of Blake Newman, an upcoming high school junior, who must relocate from Bozeman, Montana to the Indian reservation of Powder Springs when his father takes a job as principal of the high school there. Blake's world is suddenly turned upside down when he has to leave his friends and the mountains of northwest Montana where he has enjoyed success as a snowboarder. In the southeastern plains of Powder Springs, there will be no chance to practice for the snowboarding competitions he had hoped to enter. In addition, Blake finds himself thrown into an entirely different culture where he is not readily accepted and must carve out his own place while trying to make new friends. Not the junior year Blake anticipated! Although he eventually makes a few friends, including a beautiful dark haired Native American Indian girl named Nicki, Blake is constantly challenged by open prejudice, trying to meet the expectations of his parents, and coping with his medical condition of diabetes. The clash of cultures plays a role in everything Blake tries to do, often showing him that things are not always what they seem.

This novel effectively explores many questions and situations teenagers face as they are trying to bridge the gap into adulthood. In addition to the usual challenges of academics, participating in sports, dating, and looking toward an independent future, WE ARE THE WARRIORS includes struggles for acceptance and understanding between two cultures. Schuster creates characters with depth and enigma, whom we quickly grow to care about. There is a mysteriousness surrounding the actions of some, often emphasizing the deep divide and even unwillingness to communicate. Schuster speaks with authority in her portrayal of the Native American tribal traditions, lifestyles, and conflicts. Blake and his father often find themselves in untenable situations with each other and others in the school and community. Art and sports (football, snowboarding, pole vaulting) play a large part in this book and are described with enough detail to allow the novice to understand and keep pace with the action. This is a coming of age story, but more than that, it is a compelling story of the test of the inner spirit. At the end of the book, I was hoping for a sequel.

Thanks for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Carly J.
69 reviews44 followers
June 20, 2015
Blake's life has taken a big turn: instead of spending his junior year of high school in the town where he has grown up, his family is moving to a reservation. Without snowboarding and his friends, he must adapt to a new life with people who are very different from he and his family.

We Are The Warriors sort of reminded me of a reverse version of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - instead of a Native American boy going to an all white school off his reservation, a white boy goes to school at a Native American school on a reservation.

The beginning of the book was slow. It picked up by the middle, but there wasn't much going on throughout the entire book. Even though there wasn't much action, I was still confused by the names. Some people were referred to by both their first and last names, and it was hard to keep track of who was who. Blake came off as whiny and a bit selfish at the start, but was more likeable towards the end.

The book incorporated some fun things to learn about, like vision quests, the differences between tribal and city law, and living with diabetes. I wish it had included more about more Native American traditions, instead of just in passing references.

My main problem with the book was that it felt too much like a lesson instead of a story. The same character would be described as dark skinned or tribal multiple times throughout the book, which really wasn't necessary. The same with Blake's diabetes: someone would ask if his diabetes would get in the way of him doing something, and he would respond with something along the lines of "Diabetes doesn't stop me, I can do anything I want to do". After about the second or third time it really got on my nerves.

I received this book through the Goodreads First reads giveaway.
332 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2015
I felt a great affinity for this book. Most of it takes place on an Indian reservation. For the first nine years of my life, I lived on reservations. Many of the things mentioned in it, especially the fry bread, brought a smile to my face in remembrance.

The book opens with a visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I had finished during the last year a book on the history of that. So I am thinking that all these and other factors in my life combined at the right time for me to read this book.

Blake and his family move onto a reservation as his father takes a job as a principal. Blake is a junior in high school and is admittedly ticked off with the move. His friends, his snowboarding ambitions, his established life, must all be left behind.

Not to tell too much of the story, Blake must either aclimate to this new set of circumstances or find some way back to his old life.

The author does a marvelous job of describing life on the Rez, the problems of trying to fit into a society in which you do not belong. She has done her research and paid attention to details that might seem mundane but actually add credence and flavor to the book. She captures the anger, hurt and triumphs of the teenage soul.

I look forward to reading more from this author and can only encourage her to write faster!

311 reviews1 follower
May 21, 2015
You know, just because the book touches on important issues, doesn't make the book good.

Nothing much happens in this book,(seriously, you could lose first seven or eight chapters and it wouldn't make any difference), there are some incidents, but mostly it's just people eating, driving, doing sports, doing small talk - and it would take a much better writer to make that an exiting read.

A lot of characters get introduced at once and some of them get referred to both by name and surname, that is really confusing. When sometime by chapter ten some James or other says something - I don't know who that is nor do I care anymore at that point.

There are some educational (almost like encyclopaedia copypaste)passages and no hint of humor or irony - this makes the hole book feel mumsy and patronising.

It gets more palatable towards the end but than again, last two chapters are so different from the rest of the book, it's almost like they're written by different person.

In short, this book suffers from some of the biggest sins - it doesn't tell a story, it doesn't paint a picture, it doesn't evoke emotions (boredom is not an emotion)and feels totally fake for some reason.

Maybe, just maybe, somebody who may not have a great deal of talent, should at least try writing about something they know or have experienced or have felt. Just a suggestion.
Profile Image for Ashton.
249 reviews3 followers
August 7, 2016
I was given this book for free to review. I do not want to offend by this review but I'm just going to be honest. Part of it was it's kind of below my normal reading level and I'm not particularly interested in sports. I thought the dialogue could use some revising to sound more realistic of a teenager. Many authors try to use showing instead of telling through dialogue and in this case at times it sounded like the characters were narrating a documentary. The plot was unclear even chapter 15, which is the chapter I got to before I stopped reading. I found the characters unlikable and whiny. It could be a good book but just needs a lot of improvement, particularly on dialogue and plot development.
Profile Image for Kizz Robinson.
239 reviews9 followers
July 1, 2015
Ms. Schuster was kind enough to give me a free download of her book.

We Are The Warriors makes Schuster's passion for the subject matter - Native American life - clear. I appreciated the information that came from her years of experience in the kind of environments in which the story was set.

The dialogue and characters were often unrealistic and not fully fleshed out which took me out of the story and made for rough reading.

I'd be interested in essays on Schuster's experiences on reservations. It seems that she has a lot to bring to the conversation and I suspect that hearing those stories in her own voice would feel more passionate and engaging.
Profile Image for Patricia.
111 reviews
May 16, 2015
This is an appealing book for a wide array of YA readers, as it contains plenty of sports, Native American culture, art, the reality of living with diabetes, and racial profiling. The author clearly writes from experience as well as research. The story moves quickly. From football season, to basketball, prom, track season, and so on, with some surprises along the way. This will be an attraction for some young readers, however, some may get confused because of the book's fast pace. The novel would be a good supplement to the study of Native American life today.
77 reviews
June 12, 2015
This book wasn't one of my favorites, but it was definitely a good read. I was able to learn about how change can be hard and how to face things that can trouble you. My favorite part of the book was learning that the main character, Blake, was a Type 1 Diabetic like me. I was able to relate to the struggle of constantly making sure your blood sugar is intact so that nothing bad happens. If anyone is looking for a book on change and how to deal with the unexpected, I would recommend this book to them.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emma Debruyne.
142 reviews
June 26, 2015
I travel through books and this week I traveled to a Monatana Indian Reservation and I learned about life there. Was it the best book I ever read? No. But it was an amazing journey.
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