The Last Frontier
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Debby Edwardson wrote that this story was inspired by the experiences of her husband and his two brothers while at a Catholic boarding school in the early 1960s. She also incorporated additional events of the time that had significant impacts on Native Alaskan communities. The audiobook starts out with an author’s note which contains several “spoilers”. I’d recommend listening to this note after listening to the book.
My Name is not Easy is told from several viewpoints in short episodic chapters. The main character, Luke (12), and his two brothers, Bunna (10) and Isaac (6), are sent away to a distant Catholic boarding school to get an education. Everything about the school is foreign and strange to the brothers, from the food and the students who have formed ethnically-based alliances to the strict discipline of Father Mullen. Other major characters include Sonny, a tough Indian boy; Chickie, a white Alaskan girl; Amiq, the leader of the Eskimo students; and Junior who keeps to himself. If things are going to improve for the students, they will need to learn to work together and help each other. This heartbreaking story is about the importance of family and community and the courage to continue on in the face of tragedy. It is about the need to stand up, face and fight injustice.
Awards: National Book Award finalist, 2011
ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults