review: The Education of Little Tree

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Set during the Great Depression, this story covers a variety of experiences a Native American family faced living on the fringes of an Appalachian community. The narrator is Little Tree, a five-year-old part-Cherokee boy whose goes to live with his grandparents after the death of his mother and father. His grandmother is full Cherokee while his grandfather is part Cherokee and Scots. Little Tree’s education begins the day he arrives at the log cabin they call home. He learns how and when to be a hunter, fisherman, farmer, gatherer, and even a moon-shiner. Although he must learn to thrive in the wilderness, he also learns to read, studies arithmetic, and gains insight from his seasoned grandparents on society and politics. It’s an intriguing perspective that relays in the simplest terms how one forms an opinion. One of the quirks I particularly enjoyed is the use of short, affirmative sentences after a lesson, such as, “Which sounds reasonable,” and “Which is true/right.”

The Education of Little Tree is yet another book introduced to me through my book club that I would never have chosen myself if I were randomly browsing. Although I didn’t care at all for the ending, the message this book conveyed and its simplistic-yet-effective writing style makes it a worthwhile read and one I’d recommend.