Apr. 6th, 2016

okrablossom: (somerville watercolor)
I was apprehensive about Heidi Heilig's The Girl from Everywhere because it includes representations of Hawai`ians, specifically historical Hawai`ians. But I told myself, Heilig's biography says she grew up in Hawai`i, so she'll know better, she'll do it right.

On page 72, the main character says, while standing in late 19th century Honolulu [it's a time-travel story], "There would still be locals speaking the native tongue, telling native stories; their culture was fading but not gone yet."

It's not gone even now.

Heilig should know that and so should her protagonist [who has recently come from 2016]. And that's why I can't recommend the book: it propagates the view that native Hawai`ians don't exist. Which they certainly do, even when they aren't protesting and making headlines.

I shouldn't condemn A Tyranny of Petticoats for just one story but I got all excited about the mention of a native American protagonist and jumped ahead to it. The author's note following the story—which I haven't read—says she loved Jean Craighead George's Julie of the Wolves as a child, which influenced her [Marie Lu] to pick that locale for her story. But that novel rang a bell and so I checked, via Debbie Reese: Martha Stackhouse, who is Inupiaq, goes into detail about how that novel has many things just plain wrong about Inupiaq culture. I searched the author's note, back in Petticoats, but I don't see anything about a review by Inupiaq people. In fact, Lu says on page 41, "Researching Alaska, I loved the blurred line between history and Inuit folklore." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like it describes Inupiaq beliefs as not real and not viable as history. It may be that Lu did more and better research than George, spoke with tribe members, but there's nothing in the author's note that gives me confidence that's the case.

It is too important to me to acknowledge that these nations and cultures still exist that I can't take the chance to read something which misrepresents them.


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