Minuk: Ashes in the Pathway (Girls of Many Lands)
Minuk Ashes in the Pathway - Girls of Many Lands Author:Kirkpatrick Hill Part of the Girls of Many Lands series, Hill's (The Year of Miss Agnes) finely detailed novel set in a Yup'ik Eskimo village in the 1890s feels mesmerizingly authentic. — Minuk, the narrator, is 12 the spring that the missionary family arrives, and like the other children she is fascinated by the sight of her first kass&... more »#39;aq (white) woman and child. She can't imagine what the "sort of pink butterfly" hanging from the clothesline is (a corset, which astonishes her still further), and when Mrs. Hoff invites her inside for a cup of tea, she sits on a chair for the first time (and tips hers over) and slurps loudly, "to be polite." These initial misunderstandings may be comic, but the encounters between the Hoffs and the Yup'ik have grave consequences. Mr. and Mrs. Hoff condemn the villagers' rituals and practices. Yet, as seen through Minuk's eyes, the customs make sense, and Hill demonstrates that the Yup'ik belief systems are at least as coherent as Hoffs' version of Christianity ("If your god is love," Minuk asks Mr. Hoff, "why does he make people burn in hell?").
The author penetrates Yup'ik culture to such an extent that readers are likely to find the Hoffs more foreign than Minuk and her family. At the same time, the author doesn't glamorize the villagers, in particular exposing the severe conditions facing women. Not only the heroine but the vanished society here feel alive in their complexities. Ages 9-12.« less
A Yup'ik Eskimo Village, 1890 The animal carvings were hung all around the center of the men's house, where they could watch the dances the men did for them. Panruk and I watched and held our breath. We knew these were no real animals, but the dances the men did showed so perfectly how each animal moved, and the calls they made to imitate the animals and birds were so real, it was as if we really were in the spirit world of the animals....Inside cover: Twelve-year-old Minuk is intrigued by the Hoffs, the American missionary family that has moved into her village.Although she has seen white men before, Minuk has never seen a white woman-or a white child. It soon becomes clear that although the Hoffs can speak Yup'ik language, they don't understand Yup'ik ways. When Mr. Hoff begins interfering with village ceremonies, even Minuk wonders why the missionary is so sure his ways are better than Yup'ik ways.