I can't believe it took me this long to read this book. It is a real gem. Waubgeshig Rice is one of Canada’s best contemporary indigenous authors, in my opinion. This book will most likely be a re-read for me at some point.
In this story, the tradition of “a sweat” is used to tell the story of four people. It begins with people entering the sweatlodge, some for the first time which, I would predict might also be the first experience of readers to even hear of a sweat, never mind experiencing one. Seven large stones, called the 7 grandfather stones are placed in the pit in the middle of the lodge. They are heated, the sweatlodge gets hotter and hotter, much like a sauna. The purpose of the sweat is healing. People share what is bothering them in their lives, others listen and bear witness.
This book does two things beautifully: it allows the reader like myself, to learn four experiences of what contemporary life is like living on a reserve. We learn about struggles such as domestic violence, suicide and alcohol abuse and we learn about indigenous culture, spirituality, and storytelling in a compelling way. Second, for an indigenous reader who can relate to these stories, it reminds them that the old teachings and traditions are open and available to them.
For a tiny book, it packs a lot in.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛