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Ravensong - A Novel

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  332 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Lee Maracle, author of the best-selling I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism, sets this novel in an urban Native American community on the Pacific Northwest coast in the early 1950s. Ravensong is by turns damning, humorous, inspirational, and prophetic.
Paperback, 198 pages
Published May 1st 2017 by Women's Press (UK) (first published May 8th 1993)
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Friederike Knabe
Ravensong, Lee Maracle's 1993 novel, is as powerful and meaningful today as it was when it was first published some twenty years ago. It is a beautifully written, at times challenging, story that weaves the past with the present into a moving portrait of a family, a community and a land that has faced and still faces many challenges from within and from outside. Situated in the Northwest of Vancouver Island, Maracle evokes a land where the Raven sings and communicates with Cedar, where the cedar ...more
Salish- Métis author Lee Maracle’s 1993 novel Ravensong doesn’t centre around queerness or lesbian sexuality in the way that you might expect in a book reviewed here. It’s a beautiful and powerful novel about settler and Indigenous relations regardless, but its main character Stacey, a young Salish woman living on a reserve in the 1950s, isn’t explicitly or implicity queer (although she is potentially queer, I would say, given Maracle’s take on sexuality). There is, however, a lesbian couple who ...more
A fascinating Canadian novel that engrosses the reader so much into the events within the story that Stacey begins to feel like a real person, a fellow acquaintance. The contrasts between the village and white town are set in fiction but the eery tone invokes a deep sense of compassion and shame; for these descriptions are based upon fact and very accurate fact. Never have I been so enthralled in a novel that challenges me in such a way. To consider the moral implications that were enforced upon ...more
Mary Anne
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly poetic work describing the life of a group of Indians who depend on the land, each other and their laws to keep cohesion in their community. It fills me with shame for the white culture that has destroyed so much of the native way of life that we may ironically need in a future of environmental uncertainty.
not gonna rate this bc it's for a class.
but oh wow this was really deep when you really think about it.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most beautiful book I have read in a while. It carefully feathers together how complicated the divide is between the world of white people and the Native American way of life. It is well worth the time it takes to read it (a day or two) and offers such deep insight that I feel like I understand things better than I did before I read it, yet it is also utterly overwhelming to contemplate my own lack of understanding and the great loss that the People have endured. I loved this story s ...more
Natalie Carvajal
Just finished this book and I was completely engrossed with it. Lee has a really absorbing style of writing.
Sean Callaghan
Good, but there are books out there that are more nuanced in the treatment of issues separating indigenous culture from Western culture. The protagonist was mostly smug about the white people around her. Granted, there is definitely a place for indigenous characters being smug about the white people around them considering how violently smug white people have been and continue to be... but this felt like it added nothing to the conversation. It was too flaccid to be truly radical, and too smug t ...more
Cheriee Weichel
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indigenous-read
This book is the prequel to Celia's Song, a book I read earlier this year. It was interesting in that many events that happened in this book, were referenced in that one. It is told from the perspective of Celia's older sister, Stacey who is attending her last year of white high school across the bridge from their village. She plans to go to UBC and become a teacher after graduation.
Like in Celia's Song, Maracle makes us aware of the differences between her people's way of seeing the world and
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book for the way it positions coming-of-age questioning and shifting family dynamics as a focal point from which to view the everyday violence of colonialism. The rich and varied symbolism woven through this relatively short book would make it perfect to read with a pal or reading group. I'm thinking of of the dialogue between Cedar and Raven, the ephemeral presence of Celia, the way the epilogue reframes the prior narrative... I'm glad Maracle wrote a follow up, and I'm eager to read ...more
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story follows the thoughts of a 17-year old girl who lives on-reserve, and goes to the "white" school in the white town across the river. She struggles with the gap between the two cultures. I found the comparison very interesting, and now I understand a bit better the challenges that First Nations people continue to face....that family structure that was so important to them, and was torn apart by residential schools and modern living. The writing is lyrical and a joy to read.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This book has incredibly beautiful prose and blends together the real and surreal wonderfully. The way the Indigenous community tackles the epidemic that plagues them (together) is a lesson in empathy we could all use right now.

However, suicide is a big theme in this book and I found the handling of it rather insensitive and callous at certain points, so a big trigger warning for that (and hence why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5).
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book weaved together musings about suicide, sex, racism, womanhood, morality, community, family, responsibility and so much more. It did so with gentleness and understanding. This was a beautiful book, I'd recommend it to anyone and I fully intend to read it again.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started slow but after about 100 pages I was totally into it. Wonderful book with insightful perspectives for White people to listen to and heed.
Don Flynn
If you want real insight into how Native peoples view the colonizer society that has oppressed them for centuries, this book will give you a good idea.
Elaine Larmour
A little too slow of a read.
Michelle Boyer-Kelly
A story about urban communities and the devastation of colonization. It is a story about a young woman coming of age in a world that has many difficult questions.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at the lives of aboriginal women and how they support each other. Read for women's lit.
I read this for my Canadian Lit. class. This is one of the first books written by a native Indian and that is one of the claims it makes to fame. It’s a work of exquisite imagery, woven with the strong feelings that keeps it immortal. However, to anyone reading this in the contemporary time, Caucasians especially, the scorn and rejection of all things “White” will perhaps be difficult to accept. It would be only too easy to paint the author a racist without stopping to put her story into context ...more
Neill Smith
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stacy is a Salish girl in her last year of high school at a white school across the river from her village. She struggles to understand the contrasts between the realities of her life in her village and the life in whitetown. Not only is there a different social order but people and actions that are held to be important and necessary in one place are either opposed or ignored in the other. The author also uses magical realism to contrast Stacy's views with those of her younger sister who sees th ...more
Dec 11, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I remember this as one of the worst books I have ever finished (and I don't put many down). Poorly written and excessively preachy. I'm sure my perception of the writer's talent wouldn't change much if I were to torture myself by reading it again, but it is possible that I was reading too many "nice" Indian authors at the time and was shocked by the unveiled hatred in this book. Perhaps, after reading Alexie and others, I wouldn't roil at this content as much. I don't know. I don't remember it w ...more
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An awesome book we read in a class called Feminist Epistemology...and I must admit, I think I'd have had trouble reading it if it hadn't been for an amazing professor and some great discussion/clarification throughout the book. But, for anyone interested in Native American spirituality (particularly Pac NW Natives), or the clash of white culture and Native culture, it's a great book with a lot of eye-opening and thought-provoking points.
Star Dt
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book so much!
One of those books I want everyone to read.
So smart and important. I love when books have a politics instead of just being a series of boring literary devices and clever thoughts that first year shitheads think they're so awesome for unraveling.

I mostly don't like fiction anymore but I loved this book.
Aug 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-pre-2010
A story about the flu epidemic that ravaged a small Native community in Canada. It's told through the eyes of a Native teen girl, who sees the devastation her community suffers while going to school with non-Native kids and observing the very small effect the flu has on that community. Very well written.
The fluidity of the narrative was gorgeous. It had me in awe at moments. It was heavy material at times, but I expected no less. It is knowledge worth having and a perspctive worth hearing. What I really valued were the moments of almost heart-breaking linguistic beauty. I'd read it again just for those moments.
I kind of feel that objectively this is a really great book. I was really impressed with how much information it packed in in an effortless way, but at the same time something about the writing style just didn't click with me and for the first 4/5ths of the book I really felt like the characters were held at arms length. Maybe that was intentional? I don't know. Still, thumbs up overall.
Another book for looking at Canadian history through a literary lens. Now that I'm adding all of the books that I've read in the past, I've just noticed that I read Maracle's I Am Woman in my first semester, then read this book in my last full semester. Almost like coming full circle, isn't it?
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Challenge 2016
Ravensong by Lee Maracle
Started: November 2016
Finished: November 2016
Rating: 3.5/5
Words: Too Much Raven

*first time in years I got to finish a book in a day, even though it was for school*
Hilda William
This novel aptly describes First Nations life on reserve in Canada.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this for a class. Not a bad book, but not something I would have picked up and read on my own.
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Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, she grew up in the neighbouring city of North Vancouver and attended Simon Fraser University. She was one of the first Aboriginal people to be published in the early 1970s.

Maracle is one of the most prolific aboriginal authors in Canada and a recognized authority on issues pertaining to aboriginal people and aboriginal literature. She is an award-winning poet,

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“What's Fascism?" Momma let it go with too much caution. Stacey told them it is when you don't have any rights anymore. They all looked at Stacey in disbelief.

"You mean our boys went to kill people they never met for that? Hell, we got that here. No one kills for that here!" Kate pronounced the sentiments of everyone in the room. Stacey hadn't thought about this when studying World War I and World War II, but it was true. The essence of Fascism applied to them all right, except the forced labour part, but the exclusion of Indians from working in the outside world started to look to Stacey like the flip side of the same coin.”
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