While the locust slept / Peter Razor.
LJ Reviews 2001 September #2
With its storytelling quality and method of flashing back and forth in time, Razor's memoir creates an almost hypnotic effect. Though he wrote the book at age 73, Razor relates working as a teenager for a farm family, where he was beaten regularly, as if it were the present and his experiences as an orphan at the State Public School in Owatonna (where he was sent as an enfant) as the past. Razor's story is a revelation partly of the constant physical risk he faced as an orphan and partly of the abuse he suffered from being "Injun" at a time when discrimination against Native Americans was practiced openly by many. Razor has since gone on to learn about his native culture and traditions and to receive recognition for his instrument making. Razor's memoir adds to our growing knowledge of Native American history and is part of an honorable tradition of memoir writing by Native American writers, including Linda Hogan, Paula Gunn Allen, N. Scott Momaday, and others. Recommended for all public libraries. Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
PW Reviews 2001 August #2
A stirring tale of a Native American childhood, this debut draws on personal memories and official records to track Razor's painful yet triumphant years as a ward of the state of Minnesota. Abandoned by a jobless, alcoholic Chippewa father and an emotionally troubled, institutionalized mother in 1930, Razor was taken at 17 months to the State Public School at Owatonna, which he describes as a rigid, Spartan institution, where he awaited an adoption that never happened. At 15, having endured prejudice, isolation, neglect and terrible physical abuse by the staff, he was sent to work for a local farmer named John. Via a series of detailed flashbacks, Razor recounts his oppressive relationship with his new employer in spare prose loaded with feeling and insight. John's cruel treatment of Razor and of John's own wife, only stiffens the orphan's will. Meanwhile, at school, a savage hammer attack by one of the staff leaves Peter seriously injured and unable to attend classes or work for weeks. Upon returning to school, Razor finds new friends and experiences in the local high school, recounted with great energy and humor. But his situation on John's farm worsens, and eventually he's removed. While the book's conclusion is credible, it rushes toward a feel-good finish that does not live up to the power and grit of the early chapters. The epilogue of this valuable coming of age story sketches Razor's adult livelihood as a journeyman electrician, his decision to investigate his reviled Native heritage and the three children who have enriched his life. National advertising; regional author appearances. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.