Dial, 2018 (2018)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
benaki author Joseph Bruchac, who also wrote
among over a hundred books, now brings fans another wonderful and absorbing YA story -
t's 1932. Cal Black and his Great War veteran father have been living as
knights of the road
(hobos). Cal's Armenian mother died years before and father and son have ridden the rails since they lost the family farm in the Great Depression. Cal, an avid reader, enjoys the life and his Pop's company, but misses school.
illiam Black closely follows news about veteran activists, who have been demanding their promised bonuses. One day, he shares with Cal his determination to join a veteran march on Washington. He also reveals the fact that he is a full blood Creek Indian, something that Cal never suspected. His parents hid that fact, hoping to give him a better chance in life.
ow though, William Black (whose real name is Blackbird) has decided to send his son to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma, the Challagi School, founded in 1890. He had attended that school himself (and run away repeatedly). He believes that it has improved since then, though it will still be a tough challenge for Cal. However, it will be safer than Washington.
here are indeed difficult moments, but Cal also makes lifelong friends, while learning a great deal about his (up to now) unknown heritage - and about the prescient visions he sometimes has. One of them leads to his running away from school to find his Pop in Washington - and to see there how terribly the veterans are treated. This excellent story sheds light on dark corners of North American history, that should not be forgotten.
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