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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Listening for Drums is a contemporary fiction novel written by Robin Strachan. Dr. Carrie Nelson was getting ready to leave the Blackfeet Reservation in Northwest Montana once again. This was not the first time she would leave after completing her week as a volunteer with the Blackfeet Volunteer Medical Corps, but she was leaving knowing she’d soon be back to stay for a full year. While there, she had gotten word that she’d won the prestigious Roosevelt Award, which included a $50,000 stipend. The award, which honored Eleanor Roosevelt, was designed to continue Roosevelt’s efforts on behalf of medically underserved persons in the United States. Winning the award meant Carrie could spend the next year working at the tiny federal hospital which served the Blackfeet community. She couldn’t wait to spring the good news on her gran, her parents and her fiance, Tom; after all, this was a significant accomplishment and an honor. When she got home, she held in her news until the five of them were at dinner. Gran was, predictably, thrilled by the news and excited for her granddaughter’s accomplishments and plans for the year. Tom and her father were not. She was greeted with anger and a sense that everything had already been planned out for her and her future, regardless of her desires or feelings. Nothing seemed to make any sense, and she was both relieved and saddened as she left Philadelphia once more and was en route back to Montana.
Robin Strachan’s contemporary fiction novel, Listening for Drums, is an enthralling and fascinating look at the work the Blackfeet Volunteer Medical Corps accomplishes each year as seen through the eyes of a young osteopath who defies her overbearing father and controlling fiance to determine her own future. Strachan’s story bears the ring of authenticity the author gained through her own participation in the Corps and her research on the Blackfeet Nation, Native American medicine and the Glacier National Park region. The result is a story that kept me engaged and happily reading. I’ve long had an interest in natural healing and loved reading about the intersection between traditional and Western healing as both are practised in the area. Dr. Carrie Nelson is a marvelous character whose story feels quite like a coming of age tale as the twenty-eight-year-old strikes out on her own, despite the vigorous disapproval of her father and the threats of her fiance. Seeing Glacier National Park and north-western Montana through her eyes is marvelous, and the lives she interacts with as Dr. Golden Hair are unforgettable. Listening for Drums is most highly recommended.