Jones, Dorothy. Tatiana. Fairbanks: Vanessapress, 2001.

Tatiana is an Aleut woman clinging to her ancestral truths in spite the while man’s emergence and the prevalence of modern medicine, technology and unfamiliar customs. This is first apparent when her husband needs surgery after a burst appendix. She is grateful for modern healthcare saving his life but is somewhat disappointed when the old remedies of her culture couldn’t do the same. This sociological shift is even more evident in the upbringing of her children. Her daughter’s mouth is washed out with soap for not speaking English in class; her son, home from a higher education school in Oregon, is bored with the tiny town life that used to thrill him. The divide even affects Tatiana personally when her aacha (friend with whom she has a special bond) Katya is baptized by the missionaries, marries a white man and is ruined by him. It is this relationship that is interlaced throughout Tatiana’s present day life. It is one of Tatiana’s deepest sorrows. But, nothing drives home the differences between Tatiana’s old way of life and the modern more than World War II. Evacuated to a southern Alaskan village Tatiana’s entire way of life is disrupted and turned upside down.

This was chock full of lines that I connected with immediately.  I can’t quote them all but here are a few: “His hands talk more than his mouth” (p 5), and “Some will stronger than mine soaked my soul in that fear” (p 7). Here is another, “Fear made me mean” (p 80). Does anyone else think of Yoda reading that?

There was only one moment in the book that disappointed me. On page 239, the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Tatiana says of her son’s soldier friend Lawrence, “I never did see Lawrence…again” and yet four months later, “Lawrence, Paulie’s soldier friend, rushed into the house. Must have been that other soldier friend named Lawrence.

Reason read: Alaska formally became a state in the month of January.

Author fact: Tatiana is Dorothy Jones’s first book.

Book trivia: Not many libraries have this book. In fact, no library in my immediate area of even my whole state had it. My copy was borrowed from Colorado. Thanks, ‘Rado! However, I have to add this small disappointment – my interlibrary loan came with lots of paperwork taped to the front with the strict words, “Do not remove.” I am dying to see the art work for the cover (by Sara Tabbert). I took a peek at Sara’s website and now I’m even more disappointed I can’t see the cover art. Maybe if I tear a little corner….

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Alaska” (p 17). There’s a no brainer!

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