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Birchbark Blog

Power of Spring

Louise Erdrich - Thursday, April 14, 2016
Even though this was yet again a record setting warm winter, spring still has its power and the first few days of warmth are disorientingly heady.  Before I start living outside again I have to write about one book that got me through the indefinite days of ice last month.  A Different Kind of Daughter, by Maria Toorpakai and with Katherine Holstein, is subtitled the Girl Who Hid From the Taliban In Plain Sight.  It is one of the most wrenching memoirs I've read.  The story is about a family who refuses to abandon its women to the terrifying measures of tribal law, and how one daughter defies the society into which she is born (and which she also treasures).  She breaks gender taboos in order to become a world class athlete.  Every page is gripping and Toorpakai is one of the most engagingly stubborn people I've ever read about -- her entire family is composed of a singular toughness.  This is a book for parents to read with their daughters and sons -- a kind of all family read that will reward everyone with a piercing look into the lives of extraordinarily courageous people who are also altogether human in their daily decisions, feasts, trials, squabbles, and intense loyalty.

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