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Minuk: Ashes in the Pathway (Girls of Many Lands) Paperback – 1 Sep 2002

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We were all away at spring camp when the white people came, so they were a very big surprise to us when we got back to the village. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Decent, but not stellar. 4 May 2005
By Kate Butler - Published on
Format: Paperback
In reading Minuk for a class on YA literature, I have to say that I was interested in but not in love with this particular story. Minuk is a hard-working girl learning what it is to become a woman in Yi'puk Alaska whose life is shaken up when Christian missionaries come to "civilize" her village. While the plot had a good deal of potiental in terms of interesting young readers, it reads awkwardly at points and the plot is often broken by long passages of background information. The missionaries and Minuk's life takes a backseat, it seems, to explaining what it means to be a Yi'puk eskimo, and while I understand that it's historical fiction, I think there would have been a fluent way to transition between the historical information and the story itself.

That said, Minuk is a good protagonist for girls to read about, and is bright, spunky, and inquisitive. I think a lot of girls can and will benefit from reading this book, even if it does read somewhat awkwardly. Once I got about halfway into it and used to the author's style, I enjoyed it as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Yup'ik way 24 Mar. 2008
By Judy K. Polhemus - Published on
Format: Paperback
Minuk of the Yup'ik group of Inuits in Alaska in the 1890's tells us right away some of things a girl must know to become a "good" woman:

*Take food to the men in their house and wait to take away the dishes
*Eat little, save the best for family, never eat alone
*Sew beautiful clothes (to be praised by the husband in front of other men, for this was an honor)
*Always obey the rules for women so as not to spoil a husband's luck in hunting.
*To obey all rules for women in order to be praised as a "good woman."

By laying out rules of behavior early on, writer Kirkpatrick Hill, who grew up in Alaska, sets the tone for the rest of the story of Minuk and her tribe's encounter with white missionaries, who come in "to civilize" them. The ways of missionaries have surely changed since the last century. The two adult Hoffs arrive with a superior attitude: only Christian beliefs are correct and all other people will go to Hell for not accepting them. However, their son David accepts the Yup'iks as they are, although, on one occasion, he is nudged into repeating his parents.

When qualities of "good women" are first outlined, I had to squash my feminist hostility. Incredibly, by story's end, I agreed with Minuk's choice to stay with the tribe and the deep sense of community it brings to each member.

One surprising aspect of this culture is that a woman may renounce her husband for abusive behavior. All she has to do is go before the men's council and say she renounces him. Afterward, Mr. Hoff goes before them to express his displeasure with the renouncing because divorce is "wrong" before God. Such a sick belief goes back to the misognynist belief that women have less value an abusive marriage. Don't let me get started!

I thought Mrs Hoff would be a representative character of the good Christian, but the excessive workload wears down her spirit and makes her gripey and grumpy. Eventually, the couple and their son move on to their next "call" in a new location. The white nurse returns to her home in Massachusetts.

Girls of Many Lands is an excellent series published by the American Girl conglomerate. What I particularly like about the books is the clarity of writing and the booming good stories of life and girls in other times and places. If we are to be citizens of the world and avoid xenophobia, we must encourage our girls to broaden horizons. My library girls eat up these books as fast as I can get them in. What better recommendation than that!

Other books in the series:
Spring Pearl: The Last Flower (Girls of Many Lands)
Neela: Victory Song (Girls of Many Lands)
Saba: Under the Hyena's Foot (Girls of Many Lands)
Leyla: The Black Tulip (Girls of Many Lands)
Kathleen: The Celtic Knot (Girls of Many Lands)
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Mink: Ashes in the Pathway 7 Jan. 2004
A Kid's Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
Minuk: Ashes in the Pathway has not only been an extremly good book to read, but it has also been a very helpful tool for me, both in school and in boredom.
First, I'll tell you how I came upon this book. While I was on summer vacation, I spent it at my mom's work place. After a week and a bit, I had already exhausted the supply of books which I had brung with me. After work the next day, my mom and I went out to the bookstore and bought this book. The next day I started it and, without stopping, finished it in no time flat. The book was amazing. It made me think of missionaries and Alaska in a different way, when before, I really hadn't though about them at all. The details are beautiful. You can almost believe that you're there in the village along with Minuk. Also, the fasination that Minuk experiances when she hears and sees all these new things is very believable, not fake like you read in other books. I liked how Minuk was so surprised at some of the things the Hoff's did, because it was understandable. She seemed so real to me as I read the book that I read it another time, and then skimmed it another time. Also, the book was correct gramatically and literrarly. It was easy to understand, but it might be better to get some background information first, because some cultural terms may be confusing. In the end, everything ties together neatly though, so even that you may not need to do.
This book has also been a helpful tool for me at school. We were studying Alaska first thing (which I didn't know at the time that we had bought the book). I found that I knew quite a few things about the Yup'ik culture. Then, in the middle of the quarter, we were asked to complete a project. This project consisted of us picking an Alaskan Native American culture. After we did that, we had to write a one page report on their lifestyle (food they ate, clothing they wore, houses, etc.). As soon as I heard of the project, I was determined to do the Yup'ik culture, because I knew that this book would help me. I finished the project in no time at all and got a perfect score on it with nothing but this book and one internet site for research.
All in all, I really love this book and reccomend it for all readers. It has entertained me and helped me and I believe it will do the same to you.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Interesting and educating 22 Oct. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
As the wife of a Yup'ik Eskimo man and mom to two half-Yup'ik daughters, I seized this book the first time I saw it. I read it and enjoyed it, finding it interesting to read about customs and traditions I'd heard about for a long time put into the context of everyday life. It made some things much more real. I was also very interested to read about the changes missionaries brought.
After reading this book, I read it to my older daughter. At the age of 8, I wasn't sure she was ready to read it herself, particularly the end. As I read aloud, I experienced the book all over again. To read to my daughter, and to realize that as a young Yup'ik woman she would be nearing womanhood in her traditional culture was somewhat astounding. Some of the book went over her head, but by reading it together, I felt she and I both got a better picture of traditional Yup'ik culture, particularly its treatment of girls and women.
Minuk is not a highly developed character, but the culture is more the main focus of the book, and her character does a good job relaying that information.
The Yup'ik culture, while changed, is alive in Alaska today. Reading this book and thinking about differences between now and then will give a reader at least a basic idea of the internal conflict many Yup'ik people go through today, trying to reconcile the old ways with the new. And it might make you wonder just why Western ways are supposed to be "better."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Educating, yet intriging 18 Jun. 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this book, it stood out. Hastily I checked it out, and finished it in one day. The plot seems a little--odd, but it really seems like it's coming from a 12 year old's point to view. Minuk's character is very destinguished, and you get the sense of what it was like in her tribe. I highly recommend this book to all.
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