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Two Old Women, 20th Anniversary Edition: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival Paperback – November 5, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-Velma Wallis adapted her prize-winning book (HarperPerennial, 1993) from a tale she first heard from her mother, an Athabascan Indian in the Alaskan Yukon. Its transition into audio format is impressive: taken from oral tradition, it's tellable and starkly poetic, while the deep rich voice of narrator Russell Means with his Native American inflections does much to enhance its power and authenticity. The story is compelling. Abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine, two old women are left to perish on their own. Although they've grown used to complaining and letting others do for them, the two resolve not to wait passively for death but to fight against it. With trapping skills they haven't used for years and strengthened by their bond of friendship, the two women survive the winter to ultimately come face to face with the members of their tribe, none of whom has fared as well as they. Utterly convincing in its details and resolution, this will offer listeners in seventh grade and up vivid insight into a Native American culture. At the same time, it rises above the particulars of time and place to become a metaphor with a message or inspiration not only for students, women or the elderly, but for all members of the human race.
Carol Katz, Harrison Public Library, NY
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Growing up Gwich'in (one of the 11 distinct ethnic peoples of Alaska) in Fort Yukon, closer to the Arctic Circle than Fairbanks, Wallis had been hearing all her life the legend of the two old women abandoned to die by their starving tribe. Their own children abetted the cruel (not, incidentally, just to Western civilization) tribal decision. Wallis' rendition in serviceable prose of this culturally famous story is somewhere between translation and what is sometimes called re-creation. The tale (which has a happy ending) deserves a place in every regional collection but has a greater appeal, too. Roland Wulbert --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Two Old Women is based on an Athabascan Indian legend. A starving tribe of Alaskan natives leaves two old women alone in the freezing cold to die, because every mouthful of food is precious, and these two are unhelpful. They don't contribute to the tribe; they take from it. People have to help them. They complain constantly.
Once the tribe leaves them, though, they must decide whether to accept the death sentence or not. The younger woman, 75, says we might die anyway, but if that is so, let's at least die trying to live. So they adopt that motto. At least let's die trying. They manage to avert death by recalling long-unused knowledge of survival skills. In spite of their old, achy bodies, they thrive and bond with each other, but they are lonely and sad.
Eventually, there's a happy ending, which I'll let you discover for yourself. If you're like me, you'll reread it, crying with joy each time.
But the message of this book is multi-faceted. Elders can and should continue to contribute until the end. Youth should respect the elders for their valuable knowledge. All people benefit from this synergy.
Two Old Women is a short book. I read it in one evening. I heartily recommend it, particularly to those who are older and feeling ignored, useless, or confused. This book will get you up and moving, and it will make you happy.
This story is one that has great meaning and influence at a relevant time in my life.
I truly recommend it!
The message is clear: stand up and be counted, until the last day you are here on earth, especially if you are a woman.
This is a story to be read again and again. It's a small but powerful book which will stick in your mind for years. Read it aloud to children, or have them read it to you. The names are Inuit, but you'll get around that. This is a real gem.
About our 'lot in life' when you read what these two ladies went thru to survive. Such a marvelous story!