Tuesday, July 8, 2008



From the time we learn any basics about novels, we learn that there has to be a conflict, right?? Otherwise, the story is just "they lived happily ever after." I have to admit, I don't like conflict in my real life. I'd be quite happy if I never faced conflict, yet I suppose that it does serve a purpose in true life much as it does in a story. There's that saying, no pain, no gain. And there's truth in that (although at this point in my life, I feel like I would gain from LESS pain, y'know?)

All that is to get to my theme for today's episode on Chenoa's Spiritual Journey by Becky Jane Dice. The conflicts in the novel aren't the full-force action-type you see in the Indiana Jones movies, but there is a boat-load of conflict going on. Internal and external. Maybe not so much man vs. nature, but even a little bit of that.

With a thirteen-year-old, there are some automatic conflicts. Chenoa gets angry with her parents and fights with both of them at times. She has some inner conflicts over a boy or two that she gets a crush on. And, of course, there are some expected conflicts with her little brother, River. She goes through that "nobody understands me" bit that teens and parents alike can relate to.

Then there is an economic conflict between the rather poor existence on the reservation and in her life in town in Ohio. Chenoa doesn't really see it as a poor existence on the "Rez," but her parents know they can't really make it the way things are. They fell like they aren't doing right by their kids or Chenoa's grandparents the way things are, even though they had wanted to stay. Chenoa's father wants to help the tribe, but the truth is, he needs more money if he is to help anyone. Chenoa doesn't really understand that. When they move to Ohio, Chenoa and her family are suddenly surrounded by extreme wealth in the home of her dad's best friend, Doctor Douglas Ream. As it turns out, the Reams are very nice people, but they spoil their children a lot. At school, many students look down on Chenoa more for her economic status than her Apache race and culture.

On the most physical aspect are conflicts with several teenagers, chief of which are with Dakotah's girlfriend (at least she is at the beginning of the story) and the Beams' daughter, Tamara. Dakotah, that very handsome, all-around cool Native American guy who lives next door to Dr. Ream, is the reason behind both of those problems, since both girls are jealous when Dakotah's affections are bestowed upon young Chenoa. Jealousy definitely brings out the beast in each girl, and neither handles it in a very Christian way.

A major barrier comes as a heritage/culture/racial/ethnic conflict which spills over into the biggest point all for a Christian novel, religion/Christianity. I know, that's really four different issues, but they all connect in this tale. Here's Chenoa, an Apache who grew up on the reservation with grandparents that follows the old ways and the old traditions. Her parents are Christians, true believers who still hold to the traditions that don't contradict their Christian beliefs. There doesn't seem to be any conflict as long as the family is all on the reservation, at least not in these matters. The grandparents don't seem to push the non-Christian elements of their beliefs, although there's a bit about the mystical and dreams. Chenoa hasn't come to a place where she has accepted Jesus as the Christ, but she knows a lot of it in her head. The real conflicts appear when the family moves to a town in northern Ohio, to a culture far-removed from that of the reservation. At school, Chenoa finds that a lot of the other students make fun of her Indian ways. She herself is a bit of a bigot, as might be noticed in her references to the White kids. The conflict even shows up in the church she attends. In any case, a major dose of Walking The Walk as a bona fide follower of Christ would take care of most of the conflicts.

Ugh, this probably sounds too much like a teacher giving a lecture. Sorry, but I hope it gives some insights that might help you understand this little book. And I never got to give many lectures as a teacher, so I'm making up for it now!!

OTHER sightings of Becky Dice and Chenoa:

Melissa Meeks has an interview with Becky Jane Dice on
Bibliophile's Retreat


More blogs at
Back to the Mountains and CFRB main blog.

Author's sites at
here, and here.



Laura Davis said...

Great review! Thanks for the lecture! :) Just kidding! I never even thought of the conflicts. Thanks for opening my eyes. It's been great to see the different takes on this little book. Well done!

Caprice Hokstad said...

What we want and like in our real lives is almost always the exact opposite from what we want in our fiction. Most of our real lives would be too boring or too depressing for anyone to keep reading. But you're right. Not all conflict is based on action.

Thanks for encouraging Becky with all your posts this month!