Diane Matchek,
The Sacrifice
(Puffin, 1999)

Diane Matcheck has written an extraordinary first novel in The Sacrifice. It successfully combines elements of adventure, culture and romance with vibrant and living settings and a fabulous main character.

Weak-one-who-does-not-last is not an instantly likable character, particularly since in the beginning she is "bad in the heart," both angry and vengeful towards her tribe, the Crow Indians. However, she undergoes a remarkable transformation from a spiteful, inconsiderate child, obsessed with becoming the Great One at any cost. Weak-one's metamorphosis into a mature, admirable woman, although occasionally a little hurried, is exceptionally well done and the main focus of The Sacrifice throughout her journeys.

The ending, as suits this novel, is triumphant, if not castle-on-silver-clouds happy. It actually has more impact this way. By the way, the title, The Sacrifice, is very appropriate in many ways throughout the book, and it is through hers and others' sacrifices that Weak-one becomes who she does.

The Sacrifice is definitely recommended for everyone who enjoys survival-in-the-wilderness stories or Native American tales, or for teenagers looking for a coming-of-age novel that says a lot about destiny and direction. Unsurprisingly, I can't think of another book similar enough to it to recommend. I guess I'll just have to impatiently wait until Diane Matcheck writes another novel.

by Jennifer Mo
10 February 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.