The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
Originally published in March 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.
Read this a while ago.
The story: A basic coming-of-age story. In 1930, Little Tree, a boy who is part Cherokee and part white, becomes an orphan at age five. He is taken in by his Cherokee grandparents who bring him up in close touch with nature and teach him the ways of their people. He is briefly taken away and put in an orphanage where he is mistreated, but is able to return to his family after a while.
Technique and plot: The book is written in the simple, straightforward first person narrative style of a memoir, and sounds so honest that it’s easy to see why so many people believe(d) it to be non-fiction in spite of some rather unlikely events. Spellings reflect the speech patterns and accents of the people, but not so much that it makes the book difficult to read. Little Tree is very much a child of nature, and from it he learns lessons, both harsh and gentle, at the side of his grandfather. At times the book is very, very funny, other times uplifting and still other times sad. Parts of it ring so true that you whish it wasn’t a novel and the people were real, which is one of the things that have made this book so popular.
Rating: A lovely and somewhat fantastic coming-of-age story. 4+ stars.
Disclaimer: Sometimes knowing too much about an author can spoil the reading of a book. This is one of those books, so if you want to research Forrest Carter, do it after you read the book.