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The night birds
Thomas Maltman
Adult Fiction MALTMAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Set in the 1860s and '70s, Maltman's superb debut evokes a Midwest lacerated by clashes between European and Native American, slaveowner and abolitionist, killer and healer, nature and culture. Asa Senger, a lonely 14-year-old boy, is at first wary when his father's sister, Hazel, arrives at his parents' Minnesota home after a long stay in a faraway asylum, but he comes to cherish the mysterious Hazel's warmth and company. Through her stories, Asa learns of his family's bitter past: the lore and dreams of their German forebears, their place in the bitter divide over slavery and, most complex of all, the bond between Hazel and the Dakotan warrior Wanikiya that deepens despite the violence between their peoples. Maltman excels at giving even his most harrowing scenes an understated realism and at painting characters who are richly, sometimes disturbingly, human. The novel sustains its tension right to the moment it ends with an adult Asa at peace with his own complicated heritage-a tentative redemption that, the book's events as well as our own world's disorders suggest, is the best for which the human heart can hope. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In his debut novel, Maltman traces the intertwining stories of two generations of the Senger family, who fled sectarian fighting in Civil War-era Missouri to settle on the Minnesota prairie. When Aunt Hazel, long thought dead, is released from the state mental hospital, she brings with her a hidden part of the family history--an account of the family's involvement with the neighboring Dakota and its subsequent role in the Sioux uprising. One measure of successful historical fiction is whether it transmits a strong sense of place, and on this count, Maltman succeeds admirably. But while lush narrative passages aptly evoke the setting, a lack of character development leaves us wondering about those who populate the landscape. Hazel's storytelling is a central feature of the novel, but her voice is neither as strong nor as consistent as one would wish. However, Maltman avoids the romanticism often found in fictional treatments of Native Americans and writes a novel that, despite its flaws, earns our admiration for its ambition and tenacity. Recommended for all libraries.--Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Asa Senger
Age: 14
Aunt comes to live with his family; learns of his family's past through Hazel's stories.

Asa's aunt; spent time in an asylum; friends with Wanikiya.

Native American
Friends with Hazel.

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