Viking, Apr 2004, 15.99, 224 pp.
Near the Four Corners, tenth grader Crystal Manyfeathers disdains Navaho traditions since her mother, a believer, died a few years ago yet ironically Crystal is a skilled weaver. However, she breaks tradition as she weaves a rug for her Kinaalda ceremony that makes her a woman by not adding THE SPIRIT LINE to honor the Spider Woman.
At high school, many of her peers overhear her negative comment about Navaho traditions. Her best friend Henry “Junior” Tallman is hurt by her contempt as he studies to become the next hataalii healer. Perhaps out of anger, someone steals her rug just prior to the ceremony. As Crystal and Henry seek the purloined rug, she begins to understand more about her father's ways though she still wishes they had a TV, computer, and hair dryer. Will she find the rug in time to receive the blessings of womanhood, a rite of passage she only is going through for her father?
Known for their Navajo police procedurals, the Thurlos furbish a delightful story similar to the Special Investigator Ella Clah classics in terms of providing insight into modern Navaho life, but this time aimed at young adults. The terrific novel hooks the reader with its vivid descriptions of Crystal's world in which she feels she will be more comfortable in an Anglo scenario than with her family's heritage. Though aimed at the pre-teen to early teen crowd who will empathize with the identity crisis, adults will enjoy THE SPIRIT LINE that weaves a simplistic but fun amateur sleuth plot inside a deep look at Crystal's struggle between modern conveniences and tradition.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner