Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Rebecca Reviews ~ The Healing of Natalie Curtis by Jane Kirkpatrick

Classically trained pianist and singer Natalie Curtis isolated herself for five years after a breakdown just before she was to debut with the New York Philharmonic. Guilt-ridden and songless, Natalie can't seem to recapture the joy music once brought her. In 1902, her brother invites her to join him in the West to search for healing. What she finds are songs she'd never before encountered--the haunting melodies, rhythms, and stories of Native Americans.

But their music is under attack. The US government's Code of Offenses prohibits American's indigenous people from singing, dancing, or speaking their own languages as the powers that be insist on assimilation. Natalie makes it her mission not only to document these songs before they disappear but to appeal to President Teddy Roosevelt himself, who is the only man with the power to repeal the unjust law. Will she succeed and step into a new song . . . and a new future?

Award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick weaves yet another lyrical tale based on a true story that will keep readers captivated to the very end.

Rebecca's Review 3.5 stars

"The Indian music had made Natalie resilient again, not the fragile woman she'd been. 'The Indians Book' was her hymn for life, to return to living. There would be times ahead when she would question her toughness, but she would remember the combining of the fired clay and the new, and that together they offered both beauty and strength."

This is no ordinary story. Natalie Curtis was an amazing woman with a passion for conservation, and a determination to preserve the arts; using her voice for the voiceless, she was committed to capturing for all eternity the beauty of the Native American culture through its music. Truly a woman nearly a century before her time, Natalie accomplished great things for entire nations of our country's indigenous peoples.

But, Natalie wasn't always so strong. In fact, following a physical and mental breakdown as a young prodigious musician, she nearly succumbed to her inner distress before following her brother out West, where she regained purpose. This book traces that journey back to wholeness.

Looking back on this story, it becomes apparent that the book's greatest strength is also its great weakness; reading more like a memoir than a story, its rich detail and careful recording of people, places and events becomes a bit tedious and at times fairly redundant. Is it a story worth telling, you might ask? Absolutely. For like Natalie, we should all be able to answer the Yuma woman's three healing questions, "When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you told your story?"

This author deserves high commendation for penning hours of research onto the page, bringing this courageous woman back into the limelight for a new generation to admire.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.


  1. I never expected to read a story quite like this one! Thank you, Anne, for helping to spread the word about this amazing woman!

    1. Your review is enticing, Rebecca! I hope many will pick up a copy.


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