Posted by: beansai | July 2, 2007

Solar Storms by Linda Hogan

This book deeply affected me in a way that many people will never know and others will not comprehend. This story of a young Native American girl that was abused by her mother and then tossed from foster home to foster home and her quest to reconnect with her roots and herself is a heart-warming and emotional trip. If you have been or a friend of yours has been abandoned by their parents at any age, then read this novel and you will have a good understanding of the emotional impact childhood abandonment has on those left behind.

This novel is the first one that I have read that effectively and fully described the trauma and long-lasting emotional effects abandonment has on children, even when the abandonment and abuse occurs at an age they can’t recall. At times I was heartbroken and in tears for Angel, the young Native American girl, and other instances I was rejoicing with her newfound connection to the family she had lost and the self discovery that allows her to release her pent up anger and move on in her life.

Solar Storms also brings into contrast the morals of the natives of Northern America and those of the settlers in this country that brought their industrialization and their religions. It made me yearn for the simpler times when there was a respect for the land and our natural surroundings. Linda Hogan masters the ability to pull the reader in and include them in Angel’s discoveries of self and her Rites of Passage.

Some people felt that the novel ended on a hopeful note with symbols of growth and new beginning. Personally I couldn’t see beyond all that had been gained and then lost just as quickly. Too quickly, in fact. It seemed as though Angel was just becoming comfortable with her circumstances (and in turn I felt I was coming to terms with my own) when rapidly everything tumbled downhill and I sat and watched as all that had been fought for was lost.

Land was destroyed by western man’s culture, family and friends passed away. Even while writing this I ache at the losses that were endured simultaneously with the time given to emotional, spiritual, and physical growth. I felt that as Angel grew in her own way and became reattached to her heritage and the land, in the same instant all of those things were physically degrading. Rivers were being blockaded by dams, lands being torn apart, and animals being forced from their natural habitats, meanwhile Angel is accepting all those things in her heart and learning to love them. Angel becomes the embodiment of what no longer exists in a modern world and she is left to continue the fight to somehow retrieve all that was lost; but just like her childhood, those things cannot be taken back and relived.

Perhaps there is potential to regain some of the dignity that had been stolen, but as far as I am concerned, it left me feeling despondent and frustrated. Again this was an extremely emotional read for me and related to myself and my history on such a personal level that I would not expect many people to have the same reaction to this novel as I did. I read Solar Storms as part of a class and when it was discussed a majority of my classmates viewed it as an inspirational and hopeful journey. I believe I was the odd one out in this case.

I would read this book again and while I look forward to not crying through half of it, I will also miss the emotional shock that it contained on the first read. All in all the experience of reading this book was a positive one for me, no matter how intensely emotional. I would recommend it to anyone that I know.

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Responses

  1. […] you’d like to read another review on one of Linda Hogan’s fiction novels let me recommend Solar Storms (a moving novel that also brings to light the conflicts between modern man and […]

  2. I agree in some respects with your assessment, but I think there’s another deeper level here and that is the way in which the language of the book creates a lived experience in the reader.

    The poetry of the language is a creation of a time and space that few of us live in on a regular basis. So at a metaphysical level, as Angel is loosing something, we the reader are experience that which is being lost. And if it lives on in us, then is it lost?

    At some level, I think about how different generations experience life in lived experiences that cannot be repeated. For example, the elementary school kids of today cannot live the experience I lived in the 60s when my teachers were concerned about my whole being and not just how I did on tests.

    I can tell kids today about it, but until they live it they don’t understand, so in a way I think what is so magical about this book is the way I, the reader, can relive a time and place.

    Hopefully, the re-living motivates people to re-create that which may not exist at the moment, but could again if only enough people hold it in their hearts.


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