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Oliver La Farge 192 pages
The book Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge is about a married Navajo couple and their struggles to stay together. As near as I can figure the story takes place in the Arizona area although they never say so. The only indication of when this takes place is that there are slow firing rifles and no technology involved. This would indicate that it took place near or during the Civil War. The couple is Laughing Boy and Slim Girl who were raised very differently and in different worlds which is not approved of by Laughing Boy's parents and causes problems between them.
The primary character is Laughing Boy. He is a Navajo born and raised on a reservation by his family. He has had little contact with Americans, but doesn't mind them much. We meet him as he is going to the dance where he meets Slim Girl. Slim Girl is another Navajo, but is not considered a Navajo by others. She was raised by a preacher and in public schools who tried to make her more American then Indian. When she got pregnant by a local, and could not convince him to marry her, she left home and met up with the people she only knew as "the bad people". They were prostitutes who took her in and cared for her. The child was born prematurely and did not survive birth. So she left that town for the town where she met Laughing Boy. Stories of her past followed her. Predictably his family did not approve of their relationship. As if this wasn't enough, they begin to grow apart and have to deal with his growing problem with alcohol.
Laughing Boy is a love story. It has the same plot of almost all love stories, the author just changed the setting. It deals with a young couple in love who are married hastily and experience differences that could break them up. It is a typical "forbidden love" story.
I cannot say many good things about this book. It did have its interesting points when things actually started to happen and the plot was made rather interesting. Although this did not happen until towards the end of the book, it did help to keep me interested for small portions of time.
I did not like Laughing Boy. I found myself nodding off constantly and it soon came to the point that I was skimming to find an interesting part to keep me awake. I know that it is not that I am a slow reader, because I read two other books that were both twice as long in the time that it took me to read Laughing Boy. The only thing that kept me reading it was that I needed to finish it to do this review. This was not a good thing considering how little information was given. I'll try to explain what I mean, take this sentence for example: "Rope's end, shoulders, song, all moved together, and life flowed in one stream." (Page 11). Not so bad, huh? Kind of poetic even. Now try to picture one hundred and forty two pages of it and other meaningless dialogue with fifty pages of actual plot and relevant occurrences. See what I mean?
As you have probably figured out by now, I would not recommend this book. A book's main function is to entertain the reader, to make them want to read more and to keep them interested. This book did none of those, plain and simple. On a scale of 1-4 I would give this book a well deserved 1. The only reason that this book is considered a classic is that it had the classic "Romeo and Juliet" theme that is always associated with good books, so people would feel obligated to like it or maybe even guilty for not.
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