Book Review: Laughing Boy

Laughing Boy

by Oliver La Farge

copyright 1929, Houghton Mifflin Company

333 Braille pages

Young adult

Laughing Boy is a Navajo warrior whose beautiful songs of prayer have secured him to his people and to his spiritual path. Trained by his father in the art of working turquoise and silver,and skilled at trading horses, his future seems equally secure.

But he has fallen in love.

Her path has been a rocky one. She was separated from her people since childhood, raised in the American ways, and is determined to live life on her own terms. What kind of life can they make together?

While I have to admit that I almost put this book aside before finishing it, I’m glad I took it up again. Laughing Boy is a character worth following to the end of his tale. There may be a few frustratingly slow points in the action, but the author does a fine job of sketching landscape and other visual elements. Most captivating to me, are the vivid details of Navajo life he interweaves with the story, including descriptions of ritual and dance, costumes, myth and language.

By the end, I was reading the book as a metaphor: the tragic tale of one people’s striving to survive intact as another culture works to unravael everything they stand for.

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