Title: The Healing of Natalie Curtis
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
“When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you told your story?” Natalie is asked in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, The Healing of Natalie Curtis.
~ What ~
Based on a true story, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those interested in American Indians’ music, lore, and legends. With no profanity, topics of mistreatment, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes a list of characters while the ending has a glossary, author’s notes, acknowledgments, a dozen discussion questions, suggested additional reading, part of another novel by the writer, biography, and advertisements.
In this tale set in the early 1900s in America, twenty-six-year-old musical prodigy Natalie Curtis feels no joy, having not played the piano professionally for six years. To get out of her funk, she leaves the comfort of her New York family home and travels to the West, falling in love with the Native Americans’ singing, dancing, and story-telling. Criss-crossing the country multiple times, the music ethnographer makes it her goal to write a book of the eighteen tribes she visited and their music.
~ Why ~
This is an interesting rendition of how a broken woman became an observer and agent of change as she befriends indigenous people and heals from her past. I appreciated the detail of her not wanting to be a usurper of the Indians yet was the Song Maid of the West who approached President Roosevelt to challenge the United States government’s Code of Offenses that disallowed the natives to cherish their history through music.
~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of the hardship of American Indians and how they were forced to assimilate into the white man’s world may not enjoy this book. Although Biblical references are mentioned throughout the read, it may not be of interest to those who do not believe in God. Some may think the author’s notes capture more of the protagonist’s life than the novel itself that covers only a ten-year period.
~ Wish ~
As with other books by the author, there is too much information and detail on the many places the main character visited and who she met to the point it was monotonous, especially the last quarter of the book. I also wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.
~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction based on how a woman found her calling loving American Indians who expressed their heritage through song, dance, and tales, this is a good read that focuses on their culture, love of the land, and ways of life.
Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.
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This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/38UxEB7