Joseph Bruchac has written a number of extraordinary books for children and young adults that have brought the stories of Native American people to a wide audience of readers. Peacemaker will be released in January 2021 and, while the story takes place centuries ago, I feel like it is a perfect message for our times. I am so grateful to NetGalley and Dial Books for the opportunity to have read this extraordinary text ahead of its publication. The Peacemaker story belongs to the Iroquois Nation who speak of a time when the five longhouse nations were constantly at war, until a messenger came who united all of the people through peace and equality.
Peacemaker is not simply a retelling of these stories. Instead, it imagines how the coming of the Peacemaker might have impacted a specific individual. Okwaho already believes in peace. His family and a few others left their larger village because they no longer wanted to be at constant war with other communities. However, when his best friend is abducted on a fishing trip by members of a neighboring longhouse, Okwaho doesn’t know what to think anymore. His beliefs have been shaken.
In Peacemaker, the theme of peaceful coexistence with other communities is accompanied by a deep and enduring connection to the natural world. The stories that Bruchac shares in Peacemaker demonstrate a reverence for life in all its forms. The writing beautifully reflects the importance of showing care and respect for the environment that surrounds us.
The word that I feel best encapsulates the experience of reading Peacemaker is thoughtful. The pace of this book is not slow, but it encourages a level of reflection that requires taking one’s time. What is so powerful about Peacemaker is that one would give anything to make the reading experience last just a little bit longer. It is one of the most beautiful stories I have read all year and it communicates a message that I hope we are all ready to truly embrace in the years to come.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:
Diversity 9: I know I am connected to other people and can relate to them even when we are different or when we disagree.