Title: Morning GirlMorning-Girl
Author: Michael Dorris
Pages: 74
Reading Level: 10-13
Star Rating: ★★

It wasn’t until I read the epilogue that I learned in which century this story took place.

The Story.

Because of her love for the early morning hours was Morning Girl given her name. As much as she loves her mornings, so does her brother, Star Boy, love his nights. Together they dwell on the island with their Father and Mother among the unbroken shells and palm trees. They are happy under the stars which Star Boy calls the islands of the sky.

They are happy but not always are they tranquil. Great winds sweep through their island and destroy their hut; they are faced with the hardship of Mother’s miscarriage. And last of all, strange men – scared men – in colorful clothes paddle slowly up to their island. What do these men want? And why are they here?

Discussion.

Strangely enough, the questions I just asked are never answered in the story. We are told in an epilogue that these men were Columbus and his explorers, but we don’t know how they affect Morning Girl and her family. We don’t know if their life will be made better or worse, if they will become civilized, or if they will fight with Columbus and his men. The story just ker-plop ends. Of course, the story itself doesn’t really have a plot, either. It’s just an assortment of different experiences in the life of a Taino girl living on a Bahamian island in 1492.

I personally felt as though I was being short changed. The story drifted along, accomplishing nothing, and then, just as something interesting was about to begin, we are cut off. How monstrous disappointing!

Cautions.

There is some friction between Morning Girl and Star Boy; they think very differently and often disagree over things. However, their disagreements are usually petty. Because Morning Girl and Star Boy each take turns narrating chapters, their perspectives are nicely balanced.

Star Boy likes to pretend that he is different kinds of animals and things; once he pretends to be a rock, another time a bat. Whenever he is pretending, his family caters to him, referring to him as ‘a bat’ or ‘a rock’.

After Star Boy gorges himself at a feast, his best friend and sister tease him for his greediness. Star Boy becomes angry and hides himself for a day, pouting. In the end, his mother convinces him to return to their home, but he never apologizes for his behavior or repents for his greed.

When Mother and Morning Girl are discussing what they should name the new sister, Mother says, “She’s not a real person until she has a name, not a human being, not your sister or my daughter. After she comes into the world we have to decide right away who she is.” [pg. 16] This statement was not elaborated on, but as an older reader I wondered what its implications were regarding the sanctity of life debate. If a child is not a real human until it is named, is it all right to kill it before naming it?

The only part of the story that really bothered me occurs during the great storm that whips through the island. Star Boy finds refuge against the trunk of a tree which is “so broad, the bark so old and carved, that you could find in its designs the faces of all the people who have ever died, if you needed to talk to them once more. We went there to look for the new sister when she didn’t come home, and there she was, not far from my grandfather.”

Later he hears a voice coming out of the tree which he identifies as his grandfather’s.

On the last few pages, Morning Girl pretends that her dead sister can hear her and talks to her.

On one page, Father jokes that his house is full of ghosts because Morning Girl and Star Boy are whispering in the middle of the night.

Conclusion. I’m unsure whether to recommend Morning Girl. It is definitely unique, but it also felt unfinished and pointless.  I’m not sure if it had enough historical content to make it especially noticeable.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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