Drums of Change by Janette Oke

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Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Four Silver Stars

drums-of-change-2Drums of Change by Janette Oke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Running Fawn has always loved and taken pride in the ways of her Blackfoot tribe. But survival is becoming difficult as the buffalo disappear, and white men have shown up on the prairie, bringing guns, diseases, and their foreign religion. Running Fawn will have to decide where she fits in a world she barely recognizes anymore in Drums of Change, a novel by author Janette Oke.

I first read this book by one of my all-time favorite authors, oh, twenty years ago or so. Rereading it was a walk down memory lane with a changed pair of eyes.

The Native American peoples’ plight is presented with a gentle hand by the author, but the tension, the irony, the pain, the resignation in all of it hit me in a different way this time around. The mix of skepticism, hope, and anger at the offer of (more) treaties. A nomadic people reluctant to face the prospect of no more buffalo to follow, but perhaps more reluctant over the prospect of moving to a Reserve. A young, imminent chief, Silver Fox, who respects his heritage but wants his people to make it in a world that, for better or for worse, won’t be the same.

Perhaps with the exception of Running Fawn, I didn’t get too strong a sense of the characters. This was particularly true with Reverend Forbes, since much of his “airtime” takes place through letters or in the background somewhere instead of through front-and-center action or dialogue. The “I wish I could marry him/her, but he/she isn’t a Christian” plot theme has never really worked to me, in a novel. And, yes, it amused me to run into the same error I remembered running into twenty years ago, where Running Fawn’s name is once mistakenly used to refer to Silver Fox.

Still, I enjoyed revisiting this novel from one of my favorite series, the Women of the West. I’ve already read most of the series’ novels two or three times and absolutely plan to reread some more.


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