I will be doing kind of a major spoiler lower down in the page, and I will mark the break when I move to that.
So the term that I googled is “anvilicious” because a review from Goodreads on this book mentioned this as a problem for the book. This basically mean the “message” of the book is hammered home too too neatly, directly, or succinctly. This is a kind of minor problem for this book. The book is sentimental and heartfelt, a little clunkily, and yeah a little too on the nose.
The story is about Taylor, who leaves home in a beat up old car, finds some misadventures along the way, and ends up moving where her car eventually dies. She finds some friends along the way and gets into some minor scrapes. There is a real sense of danger in the novel in regards to her friendship with an undocumented couple from Guatemala who are escaping State violence there. This is in the early 80s when Guatemala was going through a horrific regime change and many many many people were killed and disappeared as a result.
The novel is about finding family where one can. It’s a perfectly ok novel in terms of story, pacing, and writing.
Let me tell you why I think I hate this novel and feel weird about it:
BIG OLE SPOILERS
Ok, she straight kidnaps a Cherokee Nation baby and then defrauds them and their sovereignty in order to “make it legal”.
Like, that’s really f*cked up, right?
I know, I know she is “given” the baby. But even in Reagan’s 80s you can’t be given a baby. And you can’t use the exploitation and oppression Native Americans face as a way to justify it. You can’t use the relative sovereignty of their Nation against them.
This is truly messed up. Her character understands justice and oppression to an extent and how the lawful thing (not helping undocumented immigrants in this case) isn’t always the right thing to do. But not even trying to find out if there’s a family for this child, being outright hostile to finding out her given name, and not respecting the Cherokee Nation’s right to determine what’s best for the child is horrible. This isn’t the old West and this isn’t some gray area to me.
She faces slight peril for this choice and absolutely no consequences. It’s crazy-making to me that no one review picked up on this, but did complain how boring it all was. This novel came out about the same time as Raising Arizona, and they straight steal a child but face dire consequences for it and admit they were wrong. This has none of that.