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The Sacrifice    by Diane Matcheck order for
by Diane Matcheck
Order:  USA  Can
Sunburst, 2005 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The story opens as a girl with bloody hands savors the wilderness beauty around her. She has joined the buffalo hunt against her father's wishes. Born with a twin brother, she has been named Weak-one-who-does-not-last and valued little by her father (her mother died in childbirth) and by her Apsaalooka (Crow) tribe. She is desperate to prove herself as a warrior and to be respected by her people. Her father, Chews-the-bear warns her that the 'true warrior hates to kill' and worries about her lack of respect for the animals she hunts. What drives her?

We learn of a prophecy that one of the twins would die young but the other would be 'one of the greatest Apsaalooka ever to live'. The girl's brother, Born-great, was thought to be the one, but he died as a four-year-old, and her feelings of guilt have overshadowed her life since. She has to believe that she is the 'Great One' foretold. After a Lakota attack, Weak-one-who-does-not-last follows the warriors seeking revenge, but gets lost. She finds herself in the Land of Boiling Waters (Yellowstone), where she discovers an obsidian cliff, is attacked by a bear, and eventually captured by the Pawnee.

Over time, she enjoys being with them, even as a captive, and becomes close to Wolfstar, who calls her Danger-with-snarled hair. But only after betrayal and sacrifice, does this brave, troubled young woman understand her life's direction and find her real name. The Sacrifice is a powerful coming of age tale of an unhappy, driven adolescent in mid-eighteenth century America.

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