Code Talkers by Joseph Bruchac follows the life of a Navajo Marine from his days in school to his days as a marine in World War Two. I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible!
We follow Kii Yazhi a young boy from a Navajo tribe who goes to the “white mans school” where he is forced to learn English, history, math and science. The basic things you learn in school. He is also taught that the Navajo way is bad. Being an Indian is bad. Speaking his native language is forbidden. All through his schooling he maintains his knowledge of his sacred language while learning to speak English. Then, one year when he is fifteen a marine recruiter shows up at his school looking for Navajos 17-25 who are proficient in both languages. They are needed for a special job in the war. Wanting desperately to join but being too young, Ned Begay (he was forced to change his name in the school), goes to his parents to ask for their blessing. After waiting a year, Ned joins the marines and goes through extensive training to become a Navajo Code Talker. From then on we hear stories of his experiences with his unit fighting in the pacific.
I was beyond happy to finally pick this book up! I haven’t come across many books that embrace the Native American culture or their contributions in World War Two. Being Lakota, I have decided that I really want to read more books with Native American characters, cultures and customs. I have heard people talk about the importance of the Code Talkers in the war but most of the time the topic is just glazed over. Especially in a recent history class that I took, there was a whole section about them and I was genuinely excited to get to it, but the professor just flew over it. For those of you who aren’t away what a code Talker is, they were Native American Maribes in World War Two who were trained to transcribe their native language into codes that code be sent over radio, but these codes had to be so secure that the Enemy couldn’t figure them out. And this worked! This book was really heart warming and reached past the expectations I had for it!
This book in particular had a unique writing style, the words themselves flowed very smoothly but the narration is what got me. It begins as if Ned is about to tell his grandchildren the story of his life and he does. The middle is a giant flash back to these days and the end picks up like a story to the children again. The author made sure all of the events were in chronological order and gave just enough detail to paint the scene in your head without going over board.
Overall I gave this a 4/5 stars, mainly because I really wanted more of his life after he returned home. The ending was slightly abrupt. But I enjoyed this thoroughly and plan on reteading this again. Thank you for reading my rambles and until next time,