Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend: Erica Wurth

Erika Wurth’s debut as an author was a tough read for me.  It was tough not because of the story, but because of the story…   I can see many of my female students living a life just like Margaritte (I am sure that some do with minor changes here or there).  I am at a total lose as to what I should do with this book.  I loved the relationship she had with her cousin, and the honesty from which it was written.  However, I spent years in the military and I’ve been known to curse with the best of them at times, but the language is brutal and as I read I was distracted by the imaginary complaints from parents seeing the F bomb twice in the first sentence of the book.  I think I would need to talk to parents specifically about the language in this book before recommending it for one of my students.

Having said that.  I can see myself talking to several parents and guardians.  There is simply too much truth in this book to keep it from my students.  There are a plethora of real life problems that my students face that are mirrored in this book.  As Sherman Alexie pointed out in Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, alcoholism is a huge problem for on reservations and is often suffered by those that find a way to leave the reservations as is the case of Margaritte’s father.

Teenage pregnancy is commonplace in Martin.  There were three births to high school girls and fathers last year.  And drugs, I could go on for days about the drug problems my students face.   It is incredibly sad to know that drugs and alcohol have touched the lives of many of students.  I had my students write a minimum of one page typed, per week last year.  Many of my kids would  talk about family members using drugs and alcohol.  They would describe relatives passed out on the street or the sofa.  It broke my heart.  I think this is why this book is so hard for me to get behind.  My students live this stuff.  I don’t know that reading it is necessarily a good thing for all of them but I think it could really put some things in perspective for some of them.

I hate this book and I love this book.  It is a catch 22 in written form.

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2 thoughts on “Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend: Erica Wurth

  1. One of my student teachers did her internship at Pine Ridge high school last semester, and I booktalked books each time I came to observe and donated books to the classroom library. This was one that sold itself. The students were just dying to read about themselves in a young adult novel. I think this is such an important book. I know you teach younger kids than I taught at Red Cloud, but I also never had a parent complain about any independent reading books in my classroom. I sent a letter out at the beginning of the year explaining the independent reading program and letting parents know there were books with many different kinds of content on my shelves, noting that maturity levels of readers and comfort levels of parents differ and asking parents to contact me if their child is ever reading a book they don’t want them to read so that I could help them find a different book. I had no issues. Donalyn Miller has a special shelf in her (6th grade?) classroom for mature readers so that books like this one could be specifically discussed with readers. I’ll try to find the reference to her shelf and send it to you since I think it could be a good idea for a middle school classroom like yours.

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  2. I have discussed a letter much like yours with my administration that will go home on day one. I like the mature readers list. If time allows (fingers crossed) I would like to sit down with my Reading counterpart and make list for a special shelf (I also need to inventory all of the books in my room). I would really appreciate any references you could help me with.

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