"In this slender, elegant novel from Flood (No Name Baby), half-Navajo/half-white Tess, 13, feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. Schoolmates at her Flagstaff boarding school call her names like Pokeyhontas; on the reservation she looks—and sometimes feels—more white than Navajo. Set against the backdrop of the Iraq War (the book opens with a memorial ceremony for a young Navajo woman killed in combat, and Tess’s beloved older sister, Gaby, is deployed soon after), the book successfully presents Tess’s shifting emotions as she grapples with the vicissitudes of a close sibling relationship, revels in her daily runs in the desert, and struggles to bond with a temperamental horse. Navajo traditions, ceremonies, and family relationships are described with gentle reverence; even the butchering of an ewe is depicted as a beautiful act. Navajo words and phrases are used throughout in a fashion that always feels natural. Flood lived and taught on the Navajo Nation for 15 years, and this quietly moving story of Tess’s growing maturity as she searches for her cultural identity resounds with authenticity."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The daughter of a Navajo woman and a white man struggles with her older sister’s deployment to Iraq and her own sense of self.
Thirteen-year-old Tess feels abandoned when Gaby, six years older, shocks the whole family by enlisting in the military. Worse, Tess must reluctantly accept the responsibility to care for Gaby's feisty horse. Flood nicely captures Tess’ anxiety as she makes several attempts to befriend her sister's aggressive stallion, as well as her sadness as a lone sibling left behind. She feels out of place both at boarding school in Flagstaff, where she’s taunted for being an “Indian,” and at home on the Rez, where kids call her an “apple”: red on the outside but white on the inside. She slowly comes to peace with her sister’s absence and her own identity during a summer idyll with her grandmother, taking care of the family’s sheep in the canyon. Tess narrates her story with a healthy sprinkling of Navajo, and though she is likably earnest, there is a lot of telling—to Gaby, her family, and readers—about her cultural clashes with her peers and not enough showing. This story loses its way by not letting readers into the modern world of the Native American teenager, who would more likely write rap songs than ceremonial poetry. At times Tess’ grandmother feels more part of that world, with her purchase of Day-Glo green sneakers, than Tess does."