Madeline's Reviews > The Heart of a Chief

The Heart of a Chief by Joseph Bruchac
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's review
Apr 02, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: assigned-reading, kids-and-young-adult

As I was reading this, I tried really hard not to compare Joseph Bruchac to Sherman Alexie. That lasted about five minutes, and for the rest of the story I kept thinking, "Okay, this is nice and all, but Sherman Alexie did the same thing, and he did it better."

I think my problem with this book is that Bruchac's tone felt really condescending - like he thought that he couldn't write a book about Indian characters without having them speak in their native language and talk about their spiritual connection to Mother Earth every five pages. I'm sure there are people who really do think like this, and speak tribal languages, and sit around listening to their wise elders tell spiritually uplifting stories. But after Sherman Alexie, all of this felt fake and silly, like Bruchac was just pandering to his white audience. I kept expecting the characters to break out into a rousing chorus of "The Colors of the Wind." You know that old commercial with the Indian guy crying about pollution? This book felt kind of like that.

Read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie instead. It's better written, the characters are real people and not cartoon characters, and the story is still beautiful without feeling like a Hallmark card.

Read for: Social Justice in Young Adult Literature
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