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“Beautiful, haunting, mesmerizing, yet disturbing in the way that pure history is itself disturbing; people are not evil, but they treat one another in evil ways. I wanted to hold Sacagewea and Baptiste close to my heart…”–Goodreads

Fashionista Piranha Features Museum of Human Beings “Because A Good Book Is The Perfect Fashion Accessory”

“Colin Sargent has pulled this child–usually regulated to a footnote in a book about Lewis, Clark or his famous mother–out of the past and written Baptiste’s life story in his first novel…interesting…and quite entertaining to read.”–Fashionista Piranha Review, Book Blog For the full review, visit www..fashion-piranha.livejournal.com

ForeWord Magazine, May/June 2009 issue, page 26

“Different Worlds: First Time Novelists Transport Readers”

How many novels by first-time authors are published each year? Do not seek to know the answers,

Grasshopper, but to understand the questions. What does “published” mean these days, or even “author”?

Is James Patterson an author? Is Ron Blagojevich? Ah, let’s not dwell. Here, we’ve collected a bookshelf of

literary fiction by writers who can now, in all seriousness, call themselves authors.

Museum of Human Beings

History buffs and elementary-aged children

alike are enthralled with the Corps

of Discovery’s 1803 transcontinental

crossing undertaken by Meriwether

Lewis, William Clark, and crew. Scholars have increasingly

recognized the young Shoshone woman Sacajawea

as a pivotal leader in this expedition. Here, Jean-

Baptiste Charbonneau, the infant on Sacajawea’s back,

takes his own personal voyage of self-discovery as he is

fostered by Clark in St. Louis, supported by Duke Paul

of Württemberg in Europe, and haunted by his mother’s

spirit in the American wilderness.

Playwright and poet Colin Sargent resides in

Portland, Maine, where he founded Portland magazine.

His sophisticated use of language permeates this

tale. For example, the color blue is used to create a

path and stimulate memory: From the descriptions

of the first sighting of the Pacific Ocean to the final

viewing of an arrowhead around a baby’s neck, the

color travels alongside Baptiste. “[Sacajawea’s] rib

cage, so like a bird’s, bore the blue stigmata of your

father’s most recent attentions,” Clark tells Baptiste.

Sacajawea’s blue Lemhi beaded belt indicates her

descent from a royal family, and Baptiste’s baby sister

Lizette is wrapped in the same blue cloth that had

originally warmed him.

Sargent explores language in another way at the

opening of each chapter by displaying a Plains Indian

sign language word along with its description. For

example, to indicate “alone,” a person should “…hold

right hand palm up in front of neck. Move outward in

sinuous motion.”

As Baptiste roams figuratively and literally, his

two father-figures torment him: the distant William

Clark, whom he initially strives to emulate, and the

alcoholic Toussaint Charbonneau, whom he cannot

escape. The age-old struggle to find true identity by

testing different worlds becomes unique in this debut

novel that belongs with the best of historical fiction.

Beth Hemke Shapiro

The Local, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Get Lit, by Michelle Dover

“The Amazing Adventures of Human Beings”

Yes, yes, we all love the founding fathers of the United States of America. Their biographies always have a hold list at the library when they arrive from the publishers. Authors do a brilliant job of recreating these men’s lives through the plethora of documents left behind.

Ask yourself: Was my great, great, great grandma perched on the end of her rocking chair worshipping the founding fathers? Was that same grandma working her knitting needles impatiently waiting for news about their latest speech? Remember that great grandma couldn’t even vote, maybe grandma couldn’t even read, maybe grandma didn’t have access to news and information. Maybe grandma was doing the laundry on a rock in the river.

In the last decade more and more readers have turned to historical fiction to fill in the gaps left in history. People want to see their working class immigrant family, their African-Americans ancestors in and out of slavery, women and children.

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