It is a story of womens’ strength when they pull together. Focusing on Cree traditions and spiritual life.
Birdie has had a rough life. She is floating through her life on a spirit quest while her skin self lies on her bed. I found it a bit confusing at first as the timeline is fluid. I was not sure what was the past and what was the present. I know that the shifting verb tenses and short sentences are a device to show how messed up Birdie is, but I found it distracting from the actual story. It surprised me at how much changing tenses and grammar problems distracted me from the plot. Staying engaged was hard.
Parts of the story are hard to read. Issues of sexual abuse and power over the women were repulsive to me. I wished there had been more protection around the young girls. The overall theme of strength and supporting each other when crisis hits partially redeemed the trouble I had will difficult topics and our scattered protagonist.
Although we spend most of the book in Birdie’s head, my favorite character was Aunty Val. She has a depth to her. She gave up a child which meant facing and fighting her own demons. She is a big women comfortable in her own skin but not perfect. Val steps up to raise Birdie, when Maggie, her sister, cannot. She makes the most of her life, doing the best she can. Even arriving to help Birdie after Birdie has avoided family for year.
The characters felt very real. I loved that I could see my own aunts and cousins in these women. It showed the universality of life. The writing is difficult to follow and messy highlighting where Birdie is at, but this also makes for an annoying read. The story is not just a Cree story but a story about accepting and enjoying our lives as they are. How we all have to overcome our demons and fight through mental issues to become stronger on the other side.