Beyond the Green

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Not to be confused with Beyond the Glenn by Sharlee Green (I'm kidding!), this book was pretty darned good. It addresses a controversial issue of which the author has had some direct experience judged from her note at the end. I rarely read author's notes, and never read introductions, prefaces, prologues, and so on, but this note was interesting.

In 1978 a law was passed regarding how American Indian children in need of foster care should be treated. As usual, white folk had in the past assumed that they knew best, and simply taken Native American children into white Christian foster care giving no consideration even as to whether there were any native American relatives who could do the job, let alone others, and no consideration at all was given to Indian tradition or culture. It concerns me that this law applied only to Native Americans and gave no consideration to other cultures or even races, such as black or Asian. It seems to me that what's good for the cultural goose is also good for the ethnic gander, but that's outside the scope of this novel so I won't get into that here.

The middle-grade novel, set in 1979, evidently in some way mirrors what happened in the author's life, and is told from the perspective of a young Mormon girl, Britta Twitchell, whose family fosters a native American child from the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation in Utah for about four years. Rather than use the child's native American Ute name, they inappropriately named her Dorinda, and then shortened that to Dori. The child's actual name is the much more beautiful Chipeta. Her mother, Irene Uncarow, is an alcoholic, but she has recovered now and wants her daughter back. This causes Britta, the main character, to react very negatively, and start scheming to prevent her 'sister' from being abducted by this alien woman - at least that's the kind of viewpoint Britta has.

Her reaction is rather extreme, beginning with kidnaping Chipeta herself and running away, and later scheming to ruin Irene's sobriety so she can't reclaim her daughter. But Britta isn't dumb, she's just young and naïve, and she grows and learns lessons from her ill-conceived plans. The book isn't dumb either: it tells a real and moving story with interesting and complex characters and it does not shy away from talking about prejudice and alcoholism. There is always something happening, and it's not predictable - except in that you know that Britta's mind is very active and she will for certain cook-up another wild-ass plan before long.

The only issue I had with it was that it was a bit heavy on religion, but then this was a Mormon family. There was a minor instance of fat-shaming by Britta, but again, young kids are not known for their diplomacy. It's a different thing for a character to say something than it is for an author to say the same thing. Some people don't get that about novels! What a character says isn't necessarily what an author thinks!

For example, at one point Britta describes a loved aunt thus; "I pretty much idolized Aunt Mariah. She was pretty and spunky and smart." Normally I'd be all over something like that - placing prettiness above all else when it comes to describing women, as though that's the most important thing a woman has to offer, way before smarts, courage, integrity, independence, or whatever. I've seen far too many authors do that - including female authors, and it's shameful, but in this case it's the character, Britta, who is saying that. That's a different thing altogether, although having said that, it wouldn't have harmed this story to have had Britta rank 'spunky and smart' before 'pretty'!

But overall I really liked this story a lot. It's a great introduction for middle-grade children to the potential problems inherent in a family of one culture taking charge of a child from another. Anything that serves to open minds and enlighten children that different doesn't equate with bad or scary is to be recommended, and I recommend this as a worthy read.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley for an honest review.

Sweet novel on family and cultural acceptance.
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A BIG Thank You to NetGalley and Charlesbridge Publishing for providing me a copy of “Beyond the Green” by Sharlee Mullins Glenn in exchange for my review. I loved reading this book and finished it in one sitting.

“Beyond the Green” is one of those books that made me reflect and appreciate life after reading it. There are so many wonderful aspects about this novel. Firstly, the author has written this story in a very smooth yet powerful manner. The plot is on a very powerful subject of battling for a child’s affection. However, even though the plot is about Dori, there are also additional subplots that made this an interesting read. These include learning new cultures, making new friendships, and being selfless. Frankly, there are so many scenes that will be etched in my mind for a long time. The scenes that particularly stand out for me are when the family all gaze upon the stars together, when their Mama has the feud with Irene, and how Dori reacts when she is told to live with Irene.

Secondly, the characters are complex and realistic and I felt sympathetic to each one of them at a certain point. It’s so hard to pick out a favorite. I loved Britta’s determination, Cally’s support, Dori’s cuteness, Red Hawk’s history, and Grandpa’s wisdom to name a few. The characters make mistakes and are annoying at times, but they also learn from it and move on. Furthermore, this middle grade novels highlights some harsh realities, but also shows how to overcome them. Some of these include Britta saving Cally’s life from the snakebite, and how she avoids catching a ride with a creepy stranger on the highway. Moreover, I loved reading about the traditions and cultures of the Mormons and Indians. After reading this book, I went online to see the Indian Powwow dance, and it was fascinating!

Thirdly, I just loved the author’s style of writing. I am now a fan of Sharlee Mullins Glenn, and would love to read her future works! She makes the story simple and down to Earth, but cleverly includes beautiful metaphors and phases that made me ponder. One of my favorite quotes from book is:

“We were an accordion family now, I guessed. Stretchy and squishy. Expandable and compressible. We’d all be coming and going, going and coming from here on out. But we’d all keep coming back, because this was home and because we were a family. We were all connected, no matter what. Nothing could change that”.

Overall, I cherished reading “Beyond the Green” and would love to see a sequel made to see them grown up. I urge all readers to pick up and read this book and give it 5/5 stars!
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In this semi-autographical book, we follow the spunky twelve year old named Britta Twitchell. She is trying to keep her foster sister Dori from leaving. They live on their family farm in Utah. The state wants to return her to her birth mother. In the book you watch them attempt to run away many times, learning valuable lessons about life and being a grown up. One of the biggest lessons they learn is that life won't always go as planned. Also, that life isn't all that bad. 

This is a super engaging book full of strong main characters. I loved the themes of courage, responsibility, family, and love inside this novel. The loyalty of the main character Britta was something that I envied. She has so many emotions she reminded me of myself at her age. 

This book is a great introduction to the foster care system. It also is a good look at the ever so controversial Indian Child Welfare Act. These introductions were age appropriate and well done. I enjoyed the afterward in which the author shares her own foster sisters experience. It made the book feel more real as a result. 

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher Charles Bridge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
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I tried to download this and redownload several times but there were still large portions of the text missing. Unable to give a review on this particular title.
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Such a heart warming story of relationships , friendships and love. I wo der why I took such lo g time to read this. Off late I feel children stories and the stories for teens / YA have more sense. It takes us back to our childhood days and then it becomes a little easy to revisit our lessons. The story here is not just about giving back a child to her biological mother but within that context , how it makes and breaks the whole structure in a family. I totally loved this writing.
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I turned the first few pages fearful of the  infamous white savior complex. This non-Native author writes a story that masterfully breaks stereotypes of Native Americans, which is something I've  rarely read in YA fiction. So beautifully written, definitely put a lump in my throat and left me very satisfied.
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Brittany is a big sister with an even bigger problem, how will she keep her baby sister from being taken away?  This charming title looks at the life of a surrogate family from the point of view of a young girl about to lose her baby sister, Dori.  Dori, a Native American, was given to their care when her mother was unable to take care of her as an infant.  Now she has to go back to this mother.  How can Brittany and her family let her go?
This title does a nice job to briefly discussing stereotypes, their harm and lasting effects.  The narrator is touching in her love for her family, however the other characters were not as well fleshed out.  This story has many good discussion starters and, at times, may bring a tear to your eye.  All in all a fitting read for students of all ages, perhaps a nice choice for adopted children or those in foster care.
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This story caught me off guard in a sweet, funny kind-of-way. Though the cover states otherwise this book is filled with a lot of history lessons dealing with Indians, a little bit on WWII, and the controversy surrounding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). 

Beyond the Green is a thrilling, touching, and humorous read that speaks of the human morality, responsibility, family, love, and not-so-subtle history lessons. It follows the journey of a little Mormon girl, Britta, who learns the secrets of the world and the different types people in the world in accordance with religion, ethnicity, and race.  The story is so real and authentic and I could not help but feel connected to it. The reason for this is because the book is spiked from the real events in the author’s own life. What I found surprising and interesting was that I did not cry while reading, I felt like I should have but I did not. I felt touched and good. 🙂

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
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Beautiful story about the strength of sisterhood. Well written and easy to read. I felt for the characters so much.
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Beyond the Green is just the type of book that is perfect Middle Grade fiction.  A sympathetic and honest look at adoption and fostering, religion, and Native American issues all in one, this is semi autobiographical book is a much needed edition to all libraries.

Britta is part of big, happy Mormon family. Her mother is the foster mother to four year Dori-a member of the Ute tribe-who has become the beloved youngest member of the family. When Dori's birth mother Irene announces that she is ready to take Dori back, Britta is both heartbroken and furious. She makes plans to keep Dori away from her birth family and tribe no matter what it takes. As Britta struggles with Dori's new circumstances, she learns some honest and sobering lessons about differences and the hard history that surrounds her.

This books takes an honest look at foster care and families, alcoholism, Indian Reservations and the hardships that Native people face in both past and modern times. It allows it's main character to feel an array of emotions, treats her own religion with respect, and has several everyday moments that keep it feeling real. And frankly, there just aren't enough books out there dealing with the topic of Native populations OR foster care. This is a truly wonderful Middle Grade book, one that deserves a spot in school, public and home libraries.
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This is a heartfelt novel with lessons to learn for young readers. 

Set in 1979, Britta and her Mormon family live in Alba, along the Red Cap River by the Uinta Valley Indian Reservation. When Britta is about 8 years old, her family takes in a baby girl from an Indian mother who was unfit to keep her due to alcoholic consumption and rehab.

Britta, her siblings and the little girl are growing up together on the family farm and they become inseparable. They call themselves the ‘The Four Banditos’. But when Dori turns four years old, the family receives the call that her mother wants her little girl back. 

This hits the siblings hard and Britta devices many ways on keeping that from happening. Once she takes Dori and her other sister along to run away, another time she tries to sabotage Dori’s mother by making her look like she still has the same consumption problem. As all her other little efforts fail to prevent the unimaginable from happening, the reader follows Britta’s moments of anger and defeat to love, unselfishness and wisdom.

***

This is a poignant read with a history lesson in humanity! It touches on the aspects of religion, Native Americans and WWII. And all though most know snippets here and there of either of these, there is something new to be learned in this well researched novel. It focuses locally in the region of the Uinta Valley and of its history that effects the inhabitants either Indian or white homesteaders. One of the main issue here is The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). 
Although I enjoyed the novel, it may be best used to serve as a history lesson then a leisure read. There is no sugar coating of themes like alcoholism, prejudice and religion. They are dealt with directly and are real.
This book was not what I expected at first, and for me the latter half was the better part of the book. I appreciate the author’s note at the end of the novel. I realize the there was a lot of research done to portray an as close as possible accurate setting. I definitely learned something new.
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I did not know what to expect from this book. I half expected it to be another story of a white family saving an indigenous child. As the book drew to a close I was satisfied with the book's development as it touched upon many themes and presented them in an accessible way. Then I read the author's note and the autobiographical nature of the story explains what makes this an outstanding read.
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ritta is a headstrong, loyal and loving sister. She comes up with many harebrained schemes to keep her foster care sister from returning to her birth mother. This story touches on some very important themes. How do we define family? What does it mean to really love? What's the best way to show our love? How do we accept changes? 

The characters in this story are complex and compelling. Although I found the story slow at first, it picked up quickly and I found myself enjoying the relationships between grandparent and child, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc. I also always enjoy a story with some Mormon roots and this story slipped some interesting tidbits in without being didactic.
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I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book is stunning. We get to meet Britta, the narrator, and her family who live in Utah. Britta's family fostered her sister, Dori, since she was a little baby. Britta loves Dori but now Dori's birth mom wants her back and Britta doesn't know how to cope with this. This is a story of love, of growth, and of forgiveness. Britta learns the meaning of family can span across ethnicities, blood relation, believes, and lifestyle. And you, the reader, get to be part of that journey.

I honestly don't know much about what it means to grow up Mormon. And I know even less about what it means to be Native American. But the author did a wonderful job making me relate to Britta, her family, Dori and the Ute tribe. The book also taught me that we all have the same hopes and dreams, fears and doubts, and basic human needs. At any given time, I could relate to one of the characters. I felt with them. 

I think this is a fantastic read for anyone, but it certainly is well suited for kids and teenagers. I believe this book will quickly become a staple in any middle school library.
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Beyond the Green is a novel that explores a very complex and controversial subject. The book does this in a way that brings the issue to life and allows the reader to see all sides. The issue here is the adoption of Native children by white families.

In this book, Britta is the older sister in a large family. The Twitchells live on a farm in Utah, on the Ute reservation. The land was divided up by the government and plots were sold to white farmers, even though the land was part of the reservation. The Twitchell family takes in a baby who is only a few months old. Her Ute mother was drinking and the child was taken from her. The baby’s name is Chipeta, but the foster family names her Dori, short for Dorinda. As Dori grows up, she just accepts that the Twitchells are her family. She was too young when they took her in to know. 

When Dori is 4 years old, her birth mother, Irene, comes back and wants to have her child returned. Under the law, this is her right. Obviously, the family has become attached to Dori and thinks of her as their child. The two older sisters, Britta and Cally, are particularly close to Dori. It is a heartbreaking situation all around, as the two families both love the child and want what’s best for her. However, Britta and her family have a hard time coming to terms with the pending return of Dori to her birth mother. 

The novel tackles an issue that is not only historical, but still happening today. The removal of Native children from their families and cultures contributes to the loss of their heritage. When a Native child is raised by a white family, the child does not learn the traditions, language, stories, dances, and other things that are part of his/her culture. Often, the children are placed with white families, even though there may be other Native relatives who could take them in. In this case, there is a grandmother who could have taken the child, but was ill and the child was instead given to the Twitchells. For the child and families involved, the movement back and forth between the two worlds can be quite traumatic. Dori is only 4 years old and it’s tough to explain something like that to one so young. 

Britta and Cally respond as devoted sisters will. They try to “save” Dori by running away with her. Of course, they are young and woefully unprepared, so it doesn’t work out. That doesn’t stop the sisters. They keep coming up with different schemes that might allow them to keep Dori. They don’t think of Irene’s feelings in all this at first. Nor do they seem to be thinking of Dori’s future. They just don’t want to lose their little sister. Britta also thinks of Irene as a drunk, something which she picked up from some local boys who have an antagonistic relationship with an elder who lives near the Twitchells, Red Hawk. The boys tell Britta that the elder is a drunk and she believes them, until her grandfather helps her see that it is not true. Red Hawk is a traumatized war veteran and a good man. Toward the end of the novel, Britta finally comes to realize what is best for Dori. She has an epiphany, and she stops calling the child Dori and begins to use her given name, Chipeta. This is the moment when real change happens. She grows up and finally begins to fully understand that there are many issues involved here, and not just the loss of their foster sister. 

The character of Britta shows real growth and development. She is introduced as a typical pre-teen, not wanting to do chores, etc. By the end of the story, she has come a long way and has seen that there is a rich culture that Dori needs to learn about because it’s part of who she is. If Dori stays with the Twitchells, she will never have the exposure to Native ways that she will get by living with her birth family. Britta eventually comes to understand that it is not about her wanting to keep her little sister as much as it is about giving Dori the life she deserves as a human being. She comes to realize that she can let her go while still loving her as a sister. 

Historically, Native children were removed from their families and sent to boarding schools or trade schools, where they were forced to give up their language and more. These children were often abused in the boarding schools. Their hair was cut, they were dusted with poison insecticides, they were forbidden from speaking their languages and punished if they did. They were taken at a young age and often did not see their families for many years. Most of them were never the same again. Basically, everything was taken from them. Taking Native children from their families and placing them in foster families may seem less traumatic than sending the child off to boarding school where they are separated from family and culture. But, in a way, both things are equally damaging to the child. This is how Native people have lost so much of their languages, ceremonies, dances, songs, stories, legends, and other cultural ways. The system not only took their land, but their entire lifeway. So, this novel addresses what is really a huge issue, the historical trauma suffered by many Native children over the past two centuries or more. 

The author did a great job in presenting the issue from all sides. The reader gets to see Irene’s reactions to the family, as well as how the family thinks of her and begins to learn from her as well. She and her mother, Shawasheyet, invite them to a powwow and to their house. They show them that the things Dori is missing are part of a rich historical culture. Irene’s actions show the Twitchells that she is a loving mother who just wants to raise her own child. It is am emotionally-charged issue that is not often discussed. Few history books talk about this. I was impressed with the story and the way the author handled it. The characters are very real and down-to-earth, normal people. They are involved in something that has the potential to go the wrong way, but they persevere and are able to work it out quite well in the end. In real life, this is not often the way it works out, but I was happy that the novel showed that it can work out, if all parties are willing to work together and resolve the issue. The way they did it seemed to make the transition easier on the child, which should be the goal in these situations. 

Overall, the book was well-written and I was impressed with the depth of the story and the way the author presented the issues. I recommend it as a good read, but also as a more personalized introduction to this complex issue that affects so many families and children. In the afterword section, the author indicates that this story is based on the true story of a child who was adopted by her family when she was young.
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Set during the summer of 1979 in the Unitah Basin in Utah, Britta is about to have her world turned upside down.  Four years ago, Britta's mother is asked to foster a baby that is found in the backseat of a car while it's mother is picked up for being intoxicated.  The baby Chipeta, now known as Dorinda, has become the center of the Twitchell household and the little sister everyone adores.  When Britta discovers that the Dorinda's mother Irene has cleaned up her act and wants her daughter back, she goes out of her way to keep Dorinda, better known as Dori, with the Twitchell's.  Unfortunately for 12 year old Britta Twitchell, she has more than Irene to deal with.  Set one year after the Indian Child Welfare Act, Britta's family is legally prohibited from adopting Dori.  However, the journey the two families take is lead by more than the law.  Prejudice, culture, religion, and mistrust are only a few of the hurdles standing in the way. 

This story was beautifully told through the eyes of twelve year-old big sister who just wants to keep her family together.  Watching how Britta discovers both the differences and similarities of her Mormon faith and the ways of the Ute Indians made for a compelling and engaging story.
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I started out annoyed at this book. It took me a while to see the care the author put into crafting this story to both honor her experience as a child and honor the complexity of the issues it touches on. I still want to read more books about indigenous Americans by indigenous Americans, but the story here is obviously written with care. The author admits she may not get everything right, but the author’s note at the end gives readers a sense of the how and why of the text.  
I think this is a great selection for middle grades. 
What does it mean to become (and stay) a family? For older readers, Far From the Tree would be a good “next book” after this.
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I want to start by saying that this is a rather quick read, it took me two days but only because I had to work in between reading. In the story we meet the family of the Twitchell's who foster a little baby girl to then have the birth mother ask for her back. I found this story to be so cute, it is based on a true life events, and it gives me all the feels. As a young little girl, Britta loves her little sister Dori and the thought of losing her has her doing little crazy things here and there, but at the end she learns that it was for the better and that her sister will be okay.

It is a touching story, filled with love and cute family moments. It is a middle grade book and I think it will be a good story for young readers, as it gives a good life lesson about love, family and acceptance.
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The author, Sharlee Glenn, of Beyond the Green based the story from her personal experience when their family temporarily adopted, Gina, a five month old American Indian. As stated in the author’s note, before 1978, the government took away neglected or abused children from the Native Indians; they were cared and even adopted by non-Indian families. This caused a lot of problems because the tradition and language were soon forgotten once they were raised by those who are not American Indians; hence the congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 to be able to protect and maintain the culture of the tribe/s.
Similar to the author’s real life story, this fiction novel narrates the story of Twitchell family from Uintah Basin, Utah who adopted a five month old American Indian baby named Chipeta on 1975. Irene Uncarrow, the biological mother of the baby was seen drunk in a bar while the baby was left inside the car in Beaumont. The social worker reached out to the Twitchells to care for the innocent baby. After four years and because of the ratification of ICWA, the social worker got in touch with them to inform that the real mother, Irene, wants to get her child again. 
The possibility of Chipeta, or was later named Dorinda or Dori by their family, being taken away wasn’t easy for the Twitchells especially to Britta, the storyteller and one of the closes to Dori. She and Cally, attempted several ways to avoid what they were dreading, but whatever happened, they can’t avoid the inevitable. 
Beyond the Green is a poignant novel that will make one think of the power of love; on how much one will do anything just to prove it; the enormity of forgiveness and accepting; and that proximity is not a factor to show one’s love and care.
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