The Brave is meant to be a lovely novel about overcoming health issues of the mind and body. It’s also meant to be about Native American ways of doing things. However it relies deeply on caricatures and the idea of Native American spiritualism.
Collin can’t help himself—he has a unique condition that finds him counting every letter spoken to him. It’s a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies, and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father.
When Collin asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he’s never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition.
Collin’s quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda’s help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.
To quote the The Circle a publication of Native American News and Arts ” How closely did they read? Granted, the story is make believe and brimming with magic and mystery and ghosts, but this magic and mystery depicts wooden caricatures in a fake reservation setting. Insight into why adults do what they do is rarely offered. All we learn is that one drinks too much alcohol, another is always getting into or out of her truck, and a wise, spooky grandmother appears and disappears.” They go on say of The Brave ” He is also welcomed by a next door neighbor – Orenda – who spends most of her time in a treehouse. Orenda, wise beyond her years, teaches Collin to be brave when faced with adversity. Sick with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Orenda predicts that one day she will turn into a butterfly. As Orenda loses strength, Collin gains strength both mentally and physically. With the help of some kind of medicine man and after turning into a wolf and killing a boogeyman, or dreaming that, Collin is mostly free from his OCD.
I personally can’t speak to another spiritual tradition but Collin losing his OCD just seemed too easy as someone with OCD myself. Feel free to argue with me in the comments. While the book was an attempt to be a book about improving oneself. It came off as putting Native American caricatures and the over used idea of Native American spiritualism.
“The Brave” is compelling, but could do without the stereotypes