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A Yellow Raft in Blue Water: A Novel Paperback – March 5, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran narrator Rosenblat displays remarkable vocal versatility in narrating Dorris's cross-generational story of three Native American women in Montana who must come to grips with the past. Divided into three first-person narratives, the book follows teenage Rayona; her mother, Christine; and her grandmother, who both the others call Aunt Ida. Rosenblat gives each a distinct voice, perfectly capturing the youthful yet determined attitude of Rayona and the wizened, sardonic tone of her mother. The syncopated, husky voice she adopts for Aunt Ida, who is said to have a pronounced accent, isn't spot-on, but it isn't distracting either. Ida's story is the shortest of the three, and Rayona's is the longest and most immediate, as the other two are actually monologues that supplement and expand on the events of the first part of the book. Rosenblat ably gives voice to the secondary characters, switching easily from a chummy, awkward priest to the bullying young Foxy Cree, but it is her excellent portrayal of dopey, sweet Sky and world-wise Evelyn, a couple who take in Rayona when she runs away, that serves as an index to the overall quality of this laudable production.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From School Library Journal

YA The emotional terrain of lives led without the steady presence of fathers or husbands is common ground for the three generations of American Indian women who successively tell their stories in this absorbing novel. Rayona, 15, half black and half Indian, is abandoned by her mother and in turn abandons her Aunt Ida. She disappears from their Montana reservation one summer and gains independence through a job at Bear Paw Lake State Park and a surprising foray into rodeo stardom. Her mother faces what appears to be the last days of her often wild life in the kind company of a misunderstood man who was both a childhood friend and enemy on the reservation. Linked to both is Aunt Ida, the stony family matriarch who lost her favored son to the Viet Nam War and now warms her heart before the electronic fires of television soap operas. The bitter rifts and inevitable bonds between generations are highlighted as the story unravels and spills out a long-kept family secret. Rayona wishes that if she could stare long enough at a yellow wooden raft in the blue waters of the lake, her troubles would be resolved. Readers, too, will wish for the best in the lives of these wonderfully unique characters. Keddy Outlaw, Harris County Public Library, Houston
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (March 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312421850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312421854
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By R. Maynard on May 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
"A Yellow Raft in Blue Water" is one story, a single epoch, but told three times, each telling by one of the three women who shared it: the grandmother, Ida, the mother, Christine, and the daughter, Rayona. But, this book is not just about a single story seen through three different pairs of eyes. It's really a story of the forces that compel each of us to do the things we do, frequently against our own intuition or better judgement ---- and, all of them ring true. Dorris, the author, had incredible insight into human behavior when he wrote this book. Tragically, I understand that he ended his own life by suicide. Although this is fiction, it's a poignant revelation into the consequences of embracing cultural belief systems that have little basis in reality. Ruined or miserable lives are often the result. The daughter, Rayona, like many teenagers, trashes the moors of her elders and shows promise of breaking out of the cruel cycle that held her mother and grandmother captive to an miserable life. This book is a plea: it asks how we know for sure, what we think we know for sure. Granted, that's a bit heavy, but certainly worthwhile for anyone who wonders where happiness lies.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Budd on March 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a powerful novel that examines the relationship between a daugher, a mother, and a grandmother. Dorris starts the novel through the perspective of the daughter, Rayona, then to the mother, Christine, and finally to the grandmother, Ida, where it all began.
As you read A Yellow Raft In Blue Water you learn and feel the struggles of each woman. Often I found myself thinking, 'that's why' as I progressed through each woman's story and connecting the three. Dorris describes this journey as "...bonding and braiding the three strands of their shared past - and future."
Michael Dorris created a novel far more powerful than the struggle of the three women. He illustrated the need for family and how the connection to kin, no matter the circumstance and time lapse, is of great importance. He displayed that in time of need you always go back to the familiar...home.
This was a very moving and thought provoking novel to read. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book, "Yellow Raft on Blue Water" by Michael Dorris, for my High School US Literature class. At first I was skeptical, I thought it would just be another one of those 'cultural struggle' books, that I've read enough of. I was wrong, this book is about understanding. The characters each go through life's journey to understand where their mothers and daughters are coming from. The book is uniquely formatted, going backward in time, retelling the same story from each character's point of view. You learn each character's past, the way they lived their lives and the way others saw them live it. "I never grew up, but I got old. I'm a woman who's lived for fifty-seven years and worn resentment like a medicine charm for forty. It hung heavier on my neck after each brief rest I took." p. 207. The language used in this book is beautiful, the story is touching, and the characters are amazing. I highly reccomend this book.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Yello Raft in Blue Water takes place on a Native American reservation in Montana and explores the lives of three women:Rayona, Christine, and Ida. Ida is the mother of Rayona and the grandmother of Rayona. The book is divided into three sections, one for Rayona's life, one for Christine's life and one for Ida's life. This technique really make the book interesting and more exciting to read because you wonder why characters are acting the way they are or why a situation is the way it is and Michael Dorris journeys back in time and provides the reader with history from the character's prospective. This keeps the reader involved in the story whl the plot moves quickly. The book explores true family love eventhough it isn't always visible to an outsider. Most people would wonder why Christine and Elgin have stayed married for so many years when half of the time they don't life together, but once you see it from their perspective you realize that it's a relationship that they can't live without. Dorris realistically illustrates a love/hate relationship that the couple always has to fall back on. This is important to the story because it gives insight into why Christine has so many problems and why Rayona is exceptionally independant. This book epxresses th generation gap that occurs in today's society. One generation thinks that the other could never understand what they're going through whil the older generation has had a long hard life but sometime decides to keep their stories secret. Ida and Christine had a difficult time understanding each other, which contributed to a strained relationship between Chistine and Rayona. Michael Dorris has writtena wonderful book that really captures your imagination and pulls you into it. I would reccomend this book to anyone and everyone.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Arlene on July 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I first started reading this book and was reading about Rayona's life, I had some very definite thoughts about her Mother. Dorris is a skilled writer - he chose the order he told this story in very specifically. He wanted us to have some pre-conceived notions about each of the characters before he unfolded parts of their story.
As the book progressed, I found myself loving it more and more. I became involved with the characters and felt their pain. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water is a well-written book that tells the stories of three generations of women. It is the retelling of the same story from three completely different viewpoints - Rayona, her mother and her grandmother. As the story progresses it becomes much more layered and complex. Nothing is as it first appears to be.
I'm looking forward to reading Cloud Chamber!
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