Poetry - General
339 Pages
Reviewed on 02/10/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

Angela Ellen Grey pens 305 poems relating to the Dakota Sioux people in her book, Bdóte. During a fishing trip in Bdóte with her father, Evie falls asleep under the shady trees on Pike Island. Evie wakes up in 1862 with another young teen girl, Lily, staring at her as she and her family hide from United States soldiers. Even though they are from different times, they share Dakota Sioux heritage. The book details their conversation in a series of poems. Evie struggles with abandonment and alienation after her mother disappears, and Lily suffers as she and her family are ripped from their homes. Evie learns to accept her circumstances and appreciate her heritage as Lily details hardship, grief, the effects of rape, and resentment.

After a Native American studies course, Angela Ellen Grey understood the need to explore multiple perspectives in history to get a clearer picture of the narratives of the cultures in her region. Her work is a story that tugs on every heartstring as she describes the atrocities and mass executions the Dakota Sioux endured during their war with United States soldiers. Even though Lily and Evie seem to have different stories, they are connected through a generational bond. The poems can be read singularly or chronologically, and their cultural significance resonates with readers. Grey writes in many poetic forms, from concrete and ghazal to diamante and acrostic, inspiring young poets to experiment with different variations. Young adult and experienced readers who enjoy poetry with historical context will love Bdóte.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Bdote is a collection of narrative poems and prose written by Angela Ellen Grey. The story revolves around two young girls who meet by magic at Bdote, the point where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet. Evangeline, also known as Evie, is a modern Sioux girl who is not fond of fishing with her father. She prefers spending her time chatting online with strangers. Lily, on the other hand, is a Sioux girl from 1862 who has time-traveled to modern-day America and has met Evie. Lily shares stories about the oppression, diseases, and death that white men have brought to their once peaceful and flourishing land. She also talks about nature, her family, and friends. Evie empathizes with Lily's stories and shares her own experiences about the internet, school, her family, and her own sadness and sorrow.

Bdote is a powerful piece of literature that addresses various social issues affecting two girls from different eras. I appreciate how the author, Angela Ellen Grey, uses the concept of Bdote, a place of convergence and spiritual significance for the Sioux, to narrate the stories of these two girls, Evie and Lily. Being thirteen years old, both girls' struggles and helplessness are well portrayed as they try to comprehend why their people have to go through so much pain and distress. The book also highlights how the pain and traditions have transcended time and still have an impact on the Sioux in Evie's era. The book is well-written and beautifully organized, and the narration is captivating. It is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction and poetry. Overall, it is excellent work.

Doreen Chombu

Bdote is a piece of land located at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. It holds significant cultural and spiritual meaning for the Sioux people and is believed to be a point of life and death. It is at this junction that Evie, a Dakota Sioux girl, meets Lily, a fellow thirteen-year-old Sioux girl who has time traveled from 1862 during a fishing trip with her father at Pike Island. Lily takes this opportunity to tell Evie about the various injustices that her people are facing from the white settlers, including death, destruction, hunger, and separation from their families. These circumstances have taken a toll on Lily to the point where she wishes for death. Inspired by Lily's story, Evie takes an interest in her people's history while facing her own battles with bullying and loneliness. To make matters worse, Evie's mother is missing, which makes her realize that the world is still a ruthless and unjust place. Angela Ellen Grey's Bdote tells the story of these remarkable girls through poems and thoughts.

Bdote is a captivating book of poems that will lead you to ponder on the past, present, and future. Its thought-provoking poems are emotionally touching and will take you on a journey that is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. Even though Evie and Lily belong to different eras, their experiences teach us powerful lessons about morality, racism, discrimination, and injustice. The book revolves around themes of family, nature, and friendship. Angela Ellen Grey weaves a unique tale that transcends time and space and captures your imagination. I particularly loved how Lily’s and Evie’s stories perfectly complemented each other. When Evie talks about missing her mother, Lily talks about being separated from her family. When Evie watches a reality show, Lily discusses how tourists come to watch her people for fun. This interplay between the two characters makes the book engaging and gives it a smooth flow. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and feel more enlightened and empowered with profound knowledge.