In 1951, Frankie Chasing Bear is a Lakota caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she knows he will need to become as a white man to succeed. After his father’s killed in a barroom brawl, Harold and Frankie move to Arizona, where she begins a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn and prayed into it.
She distrusts Christians, as her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian School, until she meets BIA agent Nick Vandergriff, a half-Lakota who’s also caught between cultures. Nick must convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren’t all bad as he tries to win her heart in order to put the stars back into her sky.
If you want to know about the difficulties that Native Americans experienced in recent times, this is definitely the book to read. I knew that life has not been easy for the natives of our land, but I didn’t realize that we have made it that hard that recently – but according to Clare, we have.
Clare is an excellent writer who uses the harsh situations that her characters face to spring to life the impossible choices faced by our Native people only 60 years ago. With authentic descriptions, smooth writing, and colorful, emotional portrayals of difficult situations, she has certainly won my attention to this issue.
The assimilation issue is the clearest issue in the story. It’s definitely a love story on several levels, just as it’s also a story of morality, honesty, and faith, but the inequality of the main characters due to race stands up and jumps out at the reader. The love story was sweet; the mystery, unknown, and as for faith, it grows gradually throughout the story. Those elements are all there and are an inherent part of each character – but this story would fall apart like Nick’s quilt without the racial tension.
A Sky Without Stars is a historical fiction novel with a twist rarely seen in stories today. It’s well worth the read.
Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!