Tomato Readers’ November Book Picks

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This month our Tomato readers have two novels, which coincidently both take place in Dakota and center around Native Americans, although several years apart. Dovetails in Tall Grass is a stunning debut novel, and The Night Watchman won a Pulitzer.  The third book, Your Fully Charged Life, is a memoir/advice book on living your best life.

A Stunning Debut Novel and a Story You Won’t Forget

Samantha Specks’ beautifully written novel is inspired by the true story of the thirty-eight Dakota-Sioux men hanged in Minnesota in 1862―the largest mass execution in US history―Dovetails in Tall Grass is a powerful tale of two young women connected by the fate of one man.

As war overtakes the frontier, Emma’s family farmstead is attacked by Dakota-Sioux warriors; on that same prairie, Oenikika desperately tries to hold on to her calling as a healer and follow the orders of her father, Chief Little Crow. When the war is over and revenge-fueled war trials begin, each young woman is faced with an impossible choice. In a swiftly changing world, both Emma and Oenikika must look deep within and fight for the truth of their convictions―even as horror and injustice unfolds all around them. This is a story that will stay with you for a long time, and there are passages so eloquently written, you will want to re-read them.  GET THE BOOK.

~review by Cheryl Benton, aka, the “head tomato.”


The Night Watchman – A Very Rich Read

This Pulitzer prize-winning book for fiction, based on the real-life story of author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather, follows the thoughtful efforts of a night watchman to defend his Indian nation against the attempts of the U.S. government to dis-enfranchise them. The plot weaves together a second story line following a girl’s search for her sister who goes missing on the mean streets of the nearest big city, falling in with disreputable types and losing herself amidst them.

The year is 1953 and Thomas Wazhashk is a Chippewa Council member who works as the night watchman in a factory located near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. As he makes his rounds every night, he finds time to study what the new “emancipation” bill before the U.S. Congress means to his people. He knows it isn’t about freedom, but about termination of the rights of Native Americans to their land and their very identity, abandoning treaties that were once made in good faith.  He rallies support and takes the fight all the way to Washington, D.C. to plead his case before the blustering congressman who is spear-heading the bill.

Pixie Paranteau, who prefers to be called Patrice now that she’s maturing, also works at the plant to support her mother and brother against the onslaughts of her alcoholic father. She is consumed with searching for her beloved older sister, Vera, who moved to the big city of Minneapolis and has gotten lost in its underbelly. As Patrice makes her way to Minneapolis, she discovers unexpected forms of exploitation and violence that endanger her life.

Within the overriding theme of underdogs battling giants, this fictional world is populated with memorable characters who are fighting for their human dignity. Their relationships to each other vibrate with compassion and hostility, strength and vulnerability, love and detachment. Sprinkled throughout the book are allusions to Indian spiritualism and mysticism. A very rich read! GET THE BOOK.

~Joan Pagano, New York, New York, fitness guru, joanpaganofitness.com


Your Fully Charged Life – A Guide to Living Your Best Life

Ever wish you were one of those people who embrace every day with a can-do mindset that motivates others and simply makes life more fun? Longtime magazine editor Meaghan B. Murphy is one of those happy, enthusiastic and high energy people.

Meaghan tells us how she was able to transform herself from a grumpy kid to the cheerful and positive adult she is today.

Your Fully Charged Life is a guide to living your best and most productive life every day.  Meaghan’s tips and strategies will help us get there one day at a time.  This is a very uplifting book with something for everyone in it.

Meaghan mentioned me in the book, “we all deserve a Francene (yes, that is me) and we all should try to be a Francene for at least one other person.  Our friendship began on Instagram.  Even though we have yet to meet in person, I consider her one of my very dear friends.  I love Meaghan and her book.  I highly recommend this memoir/advice book. GET THE BOOK.

~Francene Katzen, Richmond, Virginia, advocate for parents who have children with drug adictions


 

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