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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Fleeing the shattered remains of her marriage and a betrayal by her sister, in the throes of a midlife freefall, Latina anthropologist Claudia Ranks retreats from Seattle to Neah Bay, a Native American whaling village on the jagged Pacific coast. Claudia yearns to lose herself to the songs of the tribe and the secrets of her guide, a spirited hoarder named Maggie. But when ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Red Hen Press
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Proustitute (on hiatus)
subduction: n, the action or process in plate tectonics of the edge of one crustal plate descending below the edge of another.
Subduction is a truly impressive debut, with controlled, poetic prose, and an almost mannered way of depicting tradition, marginalization, and the human longing to belong—all with the natural world at its center.

Claudia is a forty-year-old Mexican-American anthropologist, whose husband has left her for her sister; on a trip to Neah Bay, Washington, to continue her ethnogr
Julie Christine
Claudia's husband has just left her for her younger, lusher, more exuberant sister. This profound betrayal sitting heavily on her thin shoulders, Claudia bolts from suburban Seattle to the edge of the contiguous United States: Neah Bay, on the Pacific Ocean side of the Olympic Peninsula, and the Makah tribal lands where she has been conducting anthropological research.

Peter, a native son, left the Makah reservation over twenty years earlier and travelled the world as an underwater welder. One r
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SUBDUCTION is one of the most compelling novels I’ve ever read. Following a Latinx anthropologist named Claudia from the ruins of her marriage in Seattle to the site of her research, Neah Bay, the book embodies its name: shifting tectonic plates under the surface.

Claudia’s closest connection/primary research subject in Neah Bay is Maggie, a Makah elder who has dementia and a hoarding habit. Her son Peter returns home for the first time since his father’s death when he was a teenager, just as Cla
Nicole Hardina
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Writers will want to read this book with a pencil close by for the craft at every level: the lines, seamless transitions from summary to scene, tense dialogue, and for searching out the author's many choices. Subduction gets at the tension implied by its title indirectly, embodied by the protagonist, who asks, "Who is at peace with the daylight between who we are and who we thought we'd be?" Her struggle to answer lets us consider the depth and complexity of family and the implications of past a ...more
Armon Mahdavi
Read my interview with the author here!: ...more
Douglas Cole
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The journey of Subduction is first of all a story of displacement and dislocation: Claudia, who’s Latina heritage lies back over a border beyond the father she grew up with, and whose sense of family lies back beyond the betrayal that broke it; and for Peter, whose tragic fracture from family and community instills an “inner nihilist”(176). But Subduction is also, secondly, a story of healing, through both traditional cultural practices and the kind of practices that transcend politics and place ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was pulled into the lives of the dysfunctional, broken main characters and kept routing for them to find healing before the book's conclusion. Life, however, doesn't always wrap up with neat fairytale endings.
Millares Young provides us a peak into the culture of those with ancestral rights to Neah Bay, while respecting their desire to keep the sacred private.
Every chapter left me eager to learn more, while grounding me in the familiar.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
People have already said all the right things about this book. I wanted to add that I chose this book for COVID book club, and Kristen actually came and spoke over Zoom. The readers were loving it, asking questions about the characters, the plot, the Makah, because they loved the book. It just reinforced what I already thought, that both the book and its author are intelligent, important, and beautiful.
May 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Seattle author, about a female anthropologist studying Makah culture. lovely to read about familiar haunts like the peninsula and Shi Shi, (I could practically smell the ocean) but her sexual relationship with tribal man was so soul-less it was hard to read. I had a hard time caring about any of the characters.
Carol Hislop
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
One star for the location of the book - I'd like to visit Neah Bay, it sounds beautiful. A second star for learning about Makah traditions and museum. The story, though was unbelievable and disjointed which was disappointing and annoying to read. ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Relevant, potent, and brilliantly crafted. Kristen Millares Young takes her fierce intelligence into deep territory, where cultural collisions meet sexual/political tension and transformation. READ IT.
Tracy O'Neill
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Flinty-eyed prose, with a view of the intimate and big questions about carving a life, especially one of inquiry.
Mona  AlvaradoFrazier
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book jacket interested me because this is a novel of a Latina anthropologist (Claudia) who retreats from Seattle to Neah Bay, a Native American whaling village in the Pacific Northwest coast. "Claudia yearns to lose herself to the songs of the tribe and the secrets of her guide, a spirited hoarder named Maggie. But when spurred by his mother's failing memory, Maggie's prodigal son Peter returns seeking answers to his father's murder."

The descriptive, literary writing is what captivates, esp
Kim Pearson
Sep 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I am mixed about this book. While I think the descriptions of the natural world are gorgeous, and there are some very tender moments between characters, and the peak into the culture of the Makah people at times seemed well-done and was interesting, I just don't really know how I feel about the main character. Yes, she is struggling with a lot of things in her personal life, but at the same time, I don't really get her research and how she could legitimize the choices she makes in the book. At t ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Subduction is a beautifully written novel of estrangement and the longing for belonging that so many of us carry throughout life. Claudia and Peter, the two central characters here, come from vastly different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds, but they are equally alienated and adrift. The Makah tribe beckons to both of them in different ways, but Claudia's mission to record the tribe's songs and secrets as an anthropologist inevitably brings her into contact and collision with Peter as he ...more
I wish I could give this book two different ratings.

The first rating would be for the reading experience it provided. I settled on 2 stars. I appreciate the obvious effort, research, and care the author put into the writing of the book, but the writing often felt overwrought and a bit tortured. The book felt like a product of a very personal writing process for the author, and as a reader I had difficulty getting in.

The second rating I wish I could give is for the discussion experience it provi
Teresa Greenlees
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
lyric and haunting
Mai Ling
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Subduction” takes you to one of the farthest corners of Washington state via a journey of self-redemption, regret, acceptance and forgiveness. So beautifully written, I rationed the pages to better take it all in – and of course to prevent the end, which is always too fast, too sudden. Maybe I’ve never physically been to Neah Bay, but author Kristen Millares Young’s prose is so powerful, I could almost feel the winter chill. And what rich culture, with stories and insights about the Makah India ...more
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I admit I had to look up the word "subduction." It describes one of the ways that tectonic plates interact with each other, specifically when an oceanic plate runs into a continental plate, and slices under it, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanos and landslides. The story in Kristen Millares Young's debut novel - of a Latina anthropologist working in a Native American community - beautifully illustrates the literary equivalent of those tectonic plates. Clashing cultures, family landslides ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to really like this book when I read the reviews at the very beginning. I have to admit it was good but, at first, I thought the writing was a little choppy. And, in a couple of instances, she ended a chapter, or an incident, with a short sentence that left me wondering what she meant. Good characters, yes. It does show, that no matter what/who a person is, sometimes cultures just don't mesh for one reason or another. What I really enjoyed was the location of the story since I live in t ...more
Nicole McCarthy
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautiful in its vivid description of Pacific Northwest settings, in the struggles the characters face & how they realistically handle them, and in the way it explores the cultural art of storytelling. Who gets to tell some stories? What if stories need to be preserved when memory loss is on the line? How do you define outsiders?
Loved it and happy to have it on my shelf.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to read an early version of Subduction. I was struck by the rich complexity of each of the characters—their grit, passions, flaws—and the gorgeous depiction of the dramatic Neah Bay landscape. The supernatural elements intersecting with mythology and Claudia's psychological unraveling created a reading experience that was at times harrowing, at times eerily beautiful. ...more
BJ Bullert
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Subduction is a book I could not put down. Anyone interested in relationships between ‘researchers’ and their ‘subjects’ should read it. the next time I teach a course addressing the ethics of research methods, and participant/observation in particular, this book will be required reading.
Apr 19, 2020 added it
This book transported me to Neah Bay and I felt a part of the reservation. Young creatively taught me so much about the Makaw while entertaining me with the rich characters. I highly recommend this book!
Ruth Dickey
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous, lyrical, complicated story that has stayed with me long past the final page.
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a really interesting look at how we are all connected and how those connections can break and save us all at once.
Teresa Borden
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel has a dark force to it, drawing in the reader as she accompanies the protagonist, Claudia, an anthropologist, to the upper northwest of Washington State, where she plans to continue the work she’d been doing with the Makah indigenous people earlier in the year. Except, now Claudia is fleeing from her life in Seattle, where everything went wrong.

Things do not play out as she had imagined. When she visits the older woman she’d last interviewed, she encounters the long-lost son who had r
Apr 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
This isn't the worst book I've ever read (The Book of Joan still earns that honor), but I ended up hate-reading the last 60ish pages so that I could be done with it. The book either needed to be longer, so that Millares Young could more fully explore the themes of loss, culture, memory, and love, or it needed to be a novella that only looks at one of these themes. As it is, the author introduces heavy topics...and then doesn't do much with them.

I was excited about this book for a variety of rea
Saira Khan
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be difficult to get into, especially after reading two “contemporary” genre books written at grade 4 level that I sailed through despite my family interrupting me to ask what’s for dinner and other questions, in the weeks before picking this book up. I knew it would be formidable because I’ve heard the author speak, and she doesn’t mince words or shy away from unusual diction.

By page 27, I was hooked, having found the line to Kristen’s mindspell, the way she uses the words
Lance Garland
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book a few months ago and it still stays with me.

From the first sentences, you’ll be immersed in the vivid world of the Makah people, told with lyrical skill from an astute writer. The landscape of the Pacific Northwest is described with poetic style, and the unique characters bring their stories to life. The plot revolves around Claudia, an anthropologist seeking to document the Makah people in Neah Bay.

I recommend this book for the layers it contains, for the years-long journe
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“Submerged in bed, she kept his attention, slowed his breathing, stilled his thoughts, narrowed his sense to a steady state, focused on thin blade of shoulder, pale crook of arm, valley below cheekbone, sharp ridge of lip. He wanted to bathe in her, wanted to toss their togetherness in great handfuls.” 0 likes
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