Monday, September 9, 2013

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water; Michael Dorris

Author: Michael Dorris 
Publication Year:  2003 
Publisher: Picador 
Edition: trade 
Source: my shelves
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 3/5

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is one of those books that has sat on my book shelf unread for a number of years.  I final decided to give it a try, but honestly it just wasn't a story that I enjoyed.

It's a multi-generational story about a family of women living on an Indian reservation in Montana.  The family has more skeletons in their closets than most, and each generation is very good at keeping secrets and creating more as well. The story is told in three parts beginning with the very youngest -- Rayona. Then Christine, mother of Rayona and finally Ida, Christine's mother. Each woman is headstrong, yet different, and each faces their own personal struggles. Although their relationships are strained,  the ties that bind are still there.

The story begins in the present and flashes back to past events. There are a few twists, a good dose of symbolism, and discussion points that might make this book worth discussing in a high school lit course or book club discussion group. The issues I had with the story was that although I typically like stories about family dysfunction, this story did not have any likeable characters.  I kept feeling like I should be feeling sorry for these women, yet that didn't happen.  I also need to mention that readers who like to feel a sense of resolution when they finish reading a novel, will probably end up disappointed with how this one ends.   

Although this book wasn't right for me, the writing is descriptive, and there were some important social issues addressed, which might make this one a worthy choice for older teens perhaps.


  1. I have had this on my shelf for 20+yrs...and there it sits still.

  2. Sounds like a good one for HS lit classes!

  3. Sorry you didn't love it - I don't think I'll seek it out.

  4. I read this book so long ago so all I remember about it is that I liked it :-)

  5. I get so frustrated when I've saved a book through numerous purges only to find that I didn't love it. Just goes to show that no matter what else a book has going for it, the characters are the key.

  6. Thanks for your honest review. I like books that have a resolution in the end.


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