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The White

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In 1758, when Mary Jemison is about sixteen, a Shawnee raiding party captures her Irish family near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Mary is the only one not killed and scalped. She is instead given to two Seneca sisters to replace their brother who was killed by whites. Emerging slowly from shock, Mary--now named Two-Falling-Voices--begins to make her home in Seneca culture and the wild landscape. She goes on to marry a Delaware, then a Seneca, and, though she contemplates it several times, never rejoins white society. Larsen alludes beautifully to the way Mary apprehends the brutality of both the white colonists and the native tribes; and how, open-eyed and independent, she thrives as a genuine American.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 03, 2002 – In her first novel, poet Larsen (Stitching Porcelain) mines historical territory, reinterpreting the life of Mary Jemison, a white woman who was captured in 1758 by a Shawnee raiding party at her home in Gettysburg, Pa., while the rest of her family was murdered and scalped. In Larsen's retelling, 16-year-old Mary will not speak to her captors at first, trying to keep her mind blank of all thoughts other than escape, concentrating solely on her mother's last words to her: "do not forget your English." Mary is eventually adopted by another tribe, the Seneca. Learning their language and culture, marrying and bearing six children, Mary ultimately finds herself at home with them and no longer feels the compulsion to escape or return to white society at all. Larsen's lyricism and imagery are haunting, and her poet's sensibility is omnipresent, especially in her descriptions of the natural world. Yet the first-person reflections that Larsen intersperses throughout somehow don't quite live up to the sensational story. Mary's voice is likable but not fully developed, and not nearly as compelling as Larsen's more straightforward descriptions of Seneca life and the encounters between Native American and white society. After the real-life Jemison told her story to a physician and local historian, James Seaver, she reportedly said, "I did not tell them who wrote it down half of what it was." Larsen's tale soars with poetic language, but does not quite succeed in filling in the missing half. Author tour.

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The White
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jul 16, 2002
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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