Told in a hypnotic, prismatic point-of-view using multiple characters all turned toward the same direction—our "main" character, distanced yet vital--Calling for a Blanket Dance is one of the most unique fiction novels I have ever read. And its resonances thrum deep.
Narrative voice: ★★★★★
Plot/Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Sense of time and place: ★★★★★
Ever Geimausaddle is a Native man living in Oklahoma. This is his story, but it's not told in his voice. (But, is it?)
Carried through the voices, emotions, and chords of his multigenerational family and community, this story follows Ever as he is raised and formed by his community, his family's struggles, and the seemingly endless loop of forced endurance and perspective placed upon him in harsh and gentle knots.
Who are you, individually, among all of the roots and tangles of your family, culture, and place in time and space?
Can you be an individual when the circumstances around you pilot more of your choices and opportunities around you than you do?
These weighty questions and deeper concepts of Native experience, generational expectations and situations, and reactionary living are all explored in Calling for a Blanket Dance. I thought it was beautiful, poignant, surprisingly lyrical yet accessible, and overall an interesting view of the contemporary Native experience. There is a lot of trauma here. There is a lot of joy. There is muchness, there is never-done.
As a white woman living in Michigan, I'm sure I missed some of the deeper ties to Native culture and the possible resonances within the community and others familiar with the unique situations of marginalized groups. I'm interested to see how those with more perspective find this novel. From this non-Native reader, I thought it was stunning.
Looking forward to more from this author.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Can two anxious people overcome their obstacles and find love over a bingo card? Strap in for an emotional and lingering journey.
Representation vs. Romance: ★★
A small disclaimer for this review: my rating has nothing to do with this book's actual contents. It has more to do with my perception what this story was going to be based on its description and pitch.
Aja spends each of her days walking hand in hand with her anxiety disorder. It's her constant companion, it affects how she goes about her day, and it occasionally severely impacts how she deals with people and experiences.
So when she has a panic attack in the grocery store one night, the last thing she wants is to meet a cute guy. Said cute guy supports her during her attack, and afterwards Aja flees into the night. She'll never see him again, right?
Well, then the cute guy shows up at Aja's weekly bingo night with the town's senior citizens. Turns out his name is Walker, he's super cute in person, and he's going to be bopping around Aja's life for the next several weeks.
Walker's dealing with some anxiety and other issues on his own, so he not only gets Aja—he's interested in her. Cue the sparks...
Aja and Walker end up in a bizarre bingo pact together that promises to deliver some steam... and they're both very much on board with placing bets on who will come out on top. (In more ways than one.)
I thought Bet On It was a very cute concept for a romance novel. Bingo isn't a sexy activity, really, but the idea of the two young people in a sea of senior citizens having a connection was kind of adorable, and the addition of Aja and Walker's anxieties gave it a very realistic edge.
However... this book kind of lost me when it came to the romance and pacing. I heard "sexy bingo bets" and thought this would be smutty, funny, and quickly paced. Not sure why I thought "quickly paced," exactly, but the other two points seemed like a given.
Instead of a lot of banter and smut, Bet On It delivered on some serious plot points, emotional deep dives, and personalized healing journeys. On a large scale. Not a bad way to go for a general fiction novel about healing from trauma and coping with mental illness, but again, given the hook of "sexy bingo bets" I was...confused. (And bored. I kept getting a bit bored.)
Overall, I thought this novel was extremely sweet and a story of personal triumph over struggle. I will be recommending it to those looking for anxiety representation in stories, and for those who enjoy emotional journey-dominant tropes in their general adult fiction.
Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.