About the Author
Erika T. Wurth is Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee and was raised on the outskirts of Denver. She teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University and was a writer-in-residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Crazy Horse's Girlfriend: gripping, heart-wrenching narrative
By Story Circle Book Reviews on September 1, 2014
Sixteen-year-old Margaritte is constantly planning an escape route from her miserable circumstances. A mix of Apache, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and white, she finds her Idaho Springs, Colorado, home nothing less than depressing. Beyond ennui at home, Margaritte has to deal with the daily stress of her volatile alcoholic father and a mother who can be equally explosive, while helping care for her innocent six-year-old twin sisters. She's tired of living on the cusp of poverty, as well as being surrounded by teens who have no future aspirations. High on their chart of escapism is drugs and alcohol, while many girls succumb to teenage pregnancy--a statistic that Margaritte has no intention of becoming. Ironically, Margaritte, who drinks and smokes pot, sees the wads of cash she hopes to bring in as a drug dealer and her new love, Mike Walker, as the ticket out of her loathsome life. Yet the hope of a brighter future suddenly appears dismal when Margaritte learns that she's pregnant.
In her debut novel, Wurth has created a plethora of hardened teens and their means of survival in unforgiving conditions. The story's protagonist narrator is Margaritte, whose insistence on not becoming a loser truly earmarks her as an underdog, as she struggles to go against the grain of her impoverished society. The language Wurth uses, which includes Lakota terminology, is raw and visceral, reflecting just how tough these teens are, especially Margaritte.
Kudos to Wurth for producing a gripping and heart-wrenching narrative that is not only a must read for young adult and older readers, but also a wonderful addition to Native American literature.
No heroes; just choices.
By Elizabeth Harper on December 23, 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it relevant, especially its description of the torment and ambivalence involved in making life decisions in messy, difficult, imperfect circumstances. The main character is engaging and sympathetic. Highly recommended for anyone interested in domestic violence, social policy, young adults, Native Americans, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
The prose is gritty and hard, but soul is there as well.
By D. S. Atkinson on October 4, 2014
I love the voice in this book. The prose is gritty and hard, but soul is there as well. Whether you're in it for the grit or the soul, or in it for both like me, I don't think you can help but dig this one. It's particularly impressive for a first novel.
I'd say Crazy Horse's Girlfriend was a solid entry in the Native American category for YA fiction. It's about as good as it gets for depictions of gritty, urban Indian life. Perhaps because Wurth grew up in this environment, I could easily believe in it.
A few problems in non-Native areas kept me from deeming this an exceptional story:
Moreover, she says she doesn't know words such as "repugnant" and has to look them up in a dictionary. These words should be part of a teenage reader's vocabulary well before age 16.
Despite these comments, I enjoyed Crazy Horse's Girlfriend. Rob's rating: 7.5 of 10.