From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8?Harsh and sometimes brutal, Walks Alone follows its Apache heroine through a series of difficult situations. The book begins with a raid carried out by Apache scouting for the U.S. government, in which Walks Alone's mother is killed, and ends with the girl's capture, along with other members of Victorio's band, by the Mexican army in 1880. Along the way, she endures privation and injury with fortitude and skill, and without complaint, ably caring for her young brother and a teenage widow with an infant daughter. Apache customs, skills, and religion are seamlessly worked into the text, and the tale's point of view is solely Apache. While this provides an enlightening antidote to various "Anglo"-centric tales of the frontier, it also creates a novel in which there are no "good" Anglos or Mexicans, and no "bad" Apache, except for those in the employ of the "White Eyes." Burks's writing style, both lean and formal, may put off some readers, but it also gives a valuable sense of distance from the grimness of the events, thereby helping to prevent youngsters from feeling overwhelmed by Walks Alone's tragedy. The girl's determination is also a key leavening. An interesting and useful, as well as counterbalancing, book to set alongside G. Clifton Wisler's many novels of the frontier and John Loveday's Goodbye, Buffalo Sky (McElderry, 1997).?Coop Renner, Coldwell Elementary-Intermediate School, El Paso, TX
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6^-9. Burks offers a short but powerful depiction of Apache Indian life circa 1879 and the decimation of the Indians by the U.S. Army. Fifteen-year-old Walks Alone witnesses and survives the massacre of her tribe by U.S. soldiers, escaping with her mute younger brother, who later dies of illness. Although she is ultimately reunited with her grandmother and betrothed to the young man she loves, she loses them both at the Battle of Tres Castillos. Burks' vivid descriptions of incredible physical hardship lend excitement, and the varied and scholarly bibliography is evidence of the author's attempts to accurately portray Apache history and philosophy. This will be an obvious selection for historical fiction assignments, but it will also draw readers who enjoy Gary Paulsen's survival stories. The brief, action-packed chapters and terse, accessible text will appeal to reluctant readers. Debbie Carton