Johnny Hunter is a Cheyenne boy growing up on a Montana Reservation in the 1970s. An eighth grader at the local Catholic school, he dreams of winning a college basketball scholarship. But trouble begins when his grandfather, Gray Man, insists Johnny be raised with traditional tribal beliefs.
Now Johnny must find the best path in the modern world for himself and his family, without losing himself or his heritage in the process.
Releasing in February 2020, HERITAGE, book two in the Johnny Hunter series.
A Note From the Publisher
"…quite enjoyable, and it brought to light some of the customs and beliefs of the Cheyenne people. Johnny was easily relatable and I quickly became invested in him and his story. The author's writing style was easy to follow and flowed well." — LibraryThing Early Reviewers
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Average rating from 5 members
"Every day I feel more and more Cheyenne, more like Gray Man." On the Cheyenne reservation in Montana, Johnny Hunter lives with his parents and grandfather. Very good at basketball, his father tells him he will get a scholarship to college and make something for hisself. I love reading about the Native Americans and their ways. My mother-in-law was half Indian, and I loved hearing the stories from her and her mother. Sad how most were treated and in this story too about alcohol destroying their lives. Gray Man is a very wise medicine man who talks to Johnny about the Cheyenne ways as well as the white man's ways. Thank you to publisher and NetGalley for the eARC
In the 1970s, a young Cheyenne tries to find his identity amidst racism, family drama, and his own personal confusion. This teen, Johnny Hunter, has to decide whether to embrace his heritage, give it up to live amongst the white men, or forge his own path somewhere in between. With a father who firmly insists he shouldn't embrace his heritage and a grandfather who thinks it's very important to retain his Native American roots, he has enough on his plate -- but, of course, teenage life is never easy, and school drama also rears its ugly head to add to the stress. Though I can't speak to authenticity with any authority - I was born in 1990, am not Cheyenne, and have never been to Montana - I will say that this book feels as if it properly captures the time and environment more often than not. That's difficult to handle sometimes, and I can't decide if it's all completely necessary or overdone. After all, it includes intense racism, alcoholism, abuse (and the self-destructive apology of it by the victims), and some extremely backward ideas about the roles of women and children in a family environment. These things are very accurate to the time period and relevant to the themes in the story of Johnny Hunter but still are impossible to read without making your blood boil... at least if you're highly empathic like I am. For me personally, the journey was worthwhile. Yes, I was angered at prejudices experienced by the characters and horrified by the hardships, but I enjoyed following Johnny Hunter's journey. I mentally cheered for him when he fought back against injustices. I felt awed along with him when he witnessed a spiritual healing. I cared about his welfare and that of his family and friends. And I especially felt empathy for the internal struggle between both sides of his identity. This is a sign of good writing, I believe. The story is well crafted and immediately manages to establish rapport between the readers and Johnny Hunter; so many of us can relate to the push and pull of family drama, especially where alcohol and bickering (and trying to escape from both) are concerned, and the author tosses us into this aspect of Johnny's life from the very first chapter. I found myself genuinely caring about the characters and wanting to see which path Johnny chose before I knew much more than a chapter and a half can provide. From there, the story kept me engaged and interested. The pacing was swift but not rushed, and I had trouble making myself put the book down when I needed breaks. Some of the plot points feel a little contrived at times, but never to the point of breaking the suspension of disbelief. For a book about a teen's adventures, it's not uncommon to run into overly convenient plot points. For a book featuring a culture and religion wherein spirit healing is sacred and real, it's not surprising to see that such a thing works within the story. For a book with themes of overcoming racism, it's not particularly surprising that a violently racist jerk is suddenly a friendly ally after his victim fights back. For a book about coming of age, it's not uncommon to have highly dramatic events in the main character's life. There are other things, of course, but I don't want to spoil anything vital. Let's just say that it feels pretty true to form for the slight stretching of believability in any given YA book. Perhaps the one complaint I'd have is how often the characters are referred to as Cheyenne - for example, a group of friends may be referred to as "the three Cheyenne." I'm positive this isn't the author's intention, but it can feel a bit othering at times as if they aren't 'normal' kids and instead have to be indicated as different... except in most cases, everyone in the scene is Cheyenne so it's like a story written in Ireland constantly calling the characters "the Irish lassies" or "the Irishmen". It's clunky and awkward, sometimes, but does chill out and become less frequent in the second half of the book. I also noticed a few spelling issues - for example, using 'wouldn't fair well' when the proper usage is 'wouldn't fare well' and referring to emergency flares as 'flairs' - but none detracted from the ability to understand. I'm also not entirely certain if these mistakes exist in the official published version, since I read a review copy. Overall, I greatly enjoyed Johnny Hunter and would recommend the book to anyone looking for a YA book to help raise discussion about cultural differences, racism, the difficulties faced by Native Americans, and even gender roles of the past versus the present. (Disclaimer: I recieved a free copy of this book from NetGalley for the purposes of reading and reviewing. My review is left voluntarily and contains my honest opinion.)
Johnny Hunter tells the story of a young Cheyenne boy who lives on a reservation in Montana. What I loved most about this story is the connection between Johnny's modern ideals and love of basketball mixed with his grandfather's traditional beliefs. This book is perfect for the middle school classroom because it deals with a topic many students can relate to especially those from immigrant families where their grandparents want them to practice traditional ways of living whereas their teen sensibility tells them it's cooler to fit in with the crowd. I love the addition of basketball to the story because it makes it instantly relatable for so many students.
A young man's life and his family's beliefs and heritage come into conflict. Richard Dumont has given us Johnny and his family, painting them as if they were our neighbors. Their differences come not just from their ages, Johnny is being raised by his grandparents, but also their upbringing and how each views their futures. Johnny is a 16yr old Cherokee man who sees his future in basketball and college taking him from the surroundings of his home to build a better life off reservation. His grandparents want him to learn the history of his heritage and bridge the gap between past and future. This book is very well written. It brings up so many conflicts that young men, let alone Native Americans face everyday. I'm really looking forward to the next book.