Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

This book is a good read and I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of a Native American Reserve for the Lakota tribe. What was new and different was an insight into life on the reserve, the poverty of some and the use of private vigilantes for justice.

The main protaganist Virgil Wounded Horse is the guardian of his nephew who overdoses on heroin the first time he takes it. This leads to pills being found in his school locker and time in a juvenile detention centre on the reservation. The only way he can come out without a jail term is to wear a wire and trap the drug dealers but this all goes wrong.

It is Virgil’s responsibility to find and save Nathan and he has to use a yuwipi where friends and family come together – I’ll let you read about it to see what happens. Needless to say, Virgil knows where to look and rescues Nathan.

I think this book is about two things. First it is about justice for Native Americans. On the reserves large crimes have to be handed by the police to the Federal Agency who is supposed to deal with them but often refuses to. This means that people hire private vigilantes to solve crimes and deal out a rough justice. The second element of the book is about identity, rejecting elements that you were born into, refusing to have anything to do with them because of bullying at school but in the end using them to help you out.

The acknowledgements state that there will be a second book with the same characters and I look forward to it.

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