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Red paint : the ancestral autobiography of a Coast Salish punk
2022
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Library Journal Review
Poet and lyricist LaPointe pens her powerful debut book about struggling into adulthood with the baggage of childhood trauma. She was born into the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest, in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and her memoir interweaves the legends, struggles, and traditions of her ancestors on the land that she now occupies. LaPointe narrates the audiobook herself, and the audio could have been more tightly edited, but the authenticity of LaPointe's telling her own story more than validates the recording. Parts are heartbreaking, yet she rises out of instability, out of being a person without housing, and out of childhood trauma, to find her way using Coast Salish healing techniques and her love of punk music. Often, LaPointe's voice rises in indignation as she points out the hypocrisy of the white society that displaced Coast Salish peoples. The author is young, and her full life is yet to play out; listeners of this audiobook will want to know more as she finds her way in the literary world. VERDICT This quick listener will leave one feeling hopeful for the world.--Laura Trombley
Publishers Weekly Review
LaPointe, a Coast Salish poet and artist, sifts through her family's lineage to reckon with the meaning of home in this stirring debut. A descendant of the Nooksack and Upper Skagit Indian tribe in Washington State, LaPointe writes in lucid vignettes that alternate between past and present as she reflects on her ancestors, Salish medicine workers who "faced violence, disease, and genocide"; her nomadic upbringing with her parents in the 1980s; and her romantic relationships in her 30s. Amid shifting landscapes--from the Swinomish Reservation to homelessness in her teens--she discovered punk music, which became a lifelong fascination ("To hear... a shrieking, guttural scream felt like being in the presence of power") and the conduit to meeting her two love interests: her childhood boyfriend and her husband. While LaPointe's prose falls flat when charting the love triangle that ensued between the three of them ("Being with him felt like picking up where we left off"), her writing radiates elsewhere--including in a story of her ancestor Comptia, one of the only Chinook Indians to survive a smallpox epidemic. She also displays immense vulnerability when discussing her sexual assaults, and how, through her "own ritual of healing," she resisted being defined by them. LaPointe's fresh and urgent perspective on Indigenous culture is enthralling. Agent: Duvall Osteen, Aragi, Inc. (Mar.)
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