Whiskey Tender: A Memoir

HarperAudio. Feb. 2024. 11:38 hrs. ISBN 9780063288546. $27.99. MEMOIR
In her debut memoir, Taffa (editor-in-chief, River Styx; director of creative writing, Inst. of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM) tells a poignant story of the tragedy, oppression, and generational trauma experienced by Indigenous people in the United States. Set in the 1970s and 1980s in New Mexico, Taffa, a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma) Nation and Laguna Pueblo tribes, interweaves historical lessons and stories from her childhood as she describes the stress of contending with her parents’ wish to assimilate into white American culture and her desire to learn and embrace Indigenous traditions. Lakota/Mohawk actor Charley Flyte narrates with a haunting tone that conveys the heart and sadness of Taffa’s story. Her measured, quiet approach stands witness to the heartbreak wrought by assimilation and the tragedy of leaving Indigenous history and culture out of traditional narratives of the United States.
VERDICT A must-listen for those seeking a nuanced discussion of the difficulty of balancing the complexities of assimilation with a desire to remain connected to one’s culture and history. Audiences who enjoyed Tommy Orange’s There There or Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries should take note.
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