Sunday, 2 November 2014

Review: Ouray's Peak by Leigh Podgorski

As heroine Kristin Tabor stands atop Ouray’s Peak during her final quest she ponders:

Chief Jack knew: whenever the red man wars against the white, it is always the red man who loses.
But which was she?
Jamie said his mother’s blood flowed in his veins.
Just so, her father’s blood flowed in hers.
And so it had been husband against wife.
Father against daughter.
Brother against sister.
Whenever the red man wars against the white, it is always the red man who loses.
And what if the red man is you?
And what if the white man is you?
And what if the red man and what if the white man both together, mixed together, flowed freely together in the same veins and those veins were you?

The history of the massacre of White River, Colorado of 1879 provides the backdrop for the story of the Tabor family in contemporary times. Family matriarch Christiana Tabor lies dying and implores her daughter Christine to contact the Ute Shaman Sowowic to guide her passing. When Christine Tabor does so, her heritage, long buried, awakens. This awakening creates a fissure in the Tabor household: Mickey Tabor, Christine’s husband cannot nor will not understand the hunger aroused in his wife. Tensions in the once happy household escalate with brother, Jamie, and sister, Kristin, caught between two immovable forces, until one day, without explanation or preamble, Christine Tabor is gone.

Mickey Tabor begins a long slow slide into alcoholism, secrets, and violence. What once was a close relationship between Kristin and Jamie becomes strained and distant. Jamie, once Kristin’s hero, seems to align with his father. One day challenging her father’s strict admonitions and Jamie’s repeated warnings, Kristin breaks open the lock to her father’s room. There, she finds the w’ni thokunup—a Ute musical instrument given to her mother by her grandmother-- and her mother’s letters. Mickey finds Kristin, and attacks her brutally. When Jamie comes home from hockey practice, he stumbles ashen upon the scene, and spirits Kristin away to the hospital. Unconscious, Kristin dreams of her mother and grandmother. When she returns from the hospital, she leaves home for good.

Thus begins Kristin Tabor’s journey, a journey she begins at the age of fourteen that will take her cross country and deep within the Rocky Nountains in search of the mother who left her and will lead her to the discovery of her Ute heritage and her own visionary powers, powers that take her back in time. What she sees there is so startling, so brutal, Kristin cannot bear the weight of what she has witnessed. Returned to the present, it is only the constant love of Billy Max White Cloud that leads Kristin back to hope and eventual reunification not only with her immediate family but with the two worlds that she, as did her mother before her, has so painfully tried to straddle.

Paperback, 217 pages
Published April 15th 2012 by Violet HIlls Productions 

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

With such a detailed synopsis I don't feel the need to re-tell the story. I will say that I liked the story but I was left wishing for a little more. The book is not long and it follows Kristin from 14 to 19 years so I felt like some of the really important and interesting aspects were glossed over. I wanted more details and story particularly when it came to her heritage and her ancestors. The back story was just a little too brief for my liking and I would have enjoyed reading and learning more about it. I just felt like I didn't get enough time with the characters to know them.

I don't want to give the impression that I disliked the book because that is not the case. I guess from reading the synopsis I was just expecting a little more. It was an interesting story and a quick read that I feel younger readers will enjoy.

About the Author
 Leigh Podgorski’s stage plays have been produced in Los Angeles, New York City and regionally. She had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for her one-act play Windstorm, which was presented as part of the annual festival CelebrateWomen that Leigh also co-produced. We Are Still Here, the story of Cahuilla Indian elder Katherine Siva Saubel, was premiered at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum as part of CelebrateWomen 2000. The play has been presented throughout Southern California at college campuses, Universities, and Indian Reservations and Casinos. 

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