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Rain Is Not My Indian Name
The next day was my fourteenth birthday, and I'd never kissed a boy -- domestic style or French. Right then, I decided to get myself a teen life.
Cassidy Rain Berghoff didn't know that the very night she decided to get a life would be the night that Galen would lose his.
It's been six months since her best friend died, and up until now Rain has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around her aunt Georgia's Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again -- at least through the lens of her canera.
Hired by her town newspaper to photograph the campers, Rain soon finds that she has to decide how involved She wants to become in Indian Camp. Does she want to keep a professional distance from the intertribal community she belongs to? And just how willing is she to connect with the campers after her great loss?
In a voice that resonates with insight and humor, Cynthia Leitich Smith tells of heartbreak, recovery, and reclaiming one's place in the world.
About the Author
Like Rain, author Cynthia Leitich Smith was raised, at least in part, in northeastern Kansas. Smith attended college in Douglas County, the home of fictional Hannesburg, and completed a journalism degree at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. During college, she worked at a few small-town newspapers as a reporter. Then she earned a law degree at the University of Michigan. Today she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two gray tabby cats. She's a mixed blood, enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
Cynthia Smith is also the author of the picture book Jingle Dancer, which Publishers Weekly called a "heartening portrait of a harmonious meshing of old and new"In Her Own Words
I'm a mid-to-southwestern kind of gal. Growing up, I lived in the Kansas City area, on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line, and as I grew older, I lived in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Illinois. Today Austin, Texas, is my home.
I was an only child, whose constant companions were a dog named Sir Gahald XIII (but called "Tramp") and an array of library books.
I developed an interest in reading at an early age, and won my local public library reading contest in Grandview, Missouri, when I was in the third grade. Some of my favorite books were Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. Through reading I cultivated a desire to write, and published my first piece in the "Dear Gaby" column in the sixth-grade paper.
My interest in writing continued through high school, during which I edited the newspaper and pursued both dancing and cheerleading. After finishing high school in 1986, I went on to become the first person in my family to graduate from college. There I spent much of my time writing as a minority issues reporter for the campus newspaper and eventually completed my undergraduate studies in 1991 with a degree in journalism.
I never thought of writing and reading fiction as a viable career option, and so I finished law school in 1994, where I had been president of the Native American Law Student's Association. For a while I worked in a federal law job in Chicago, but I was bored. I decided that in order to be happy I needed to turn to something that not only mattered to me, but also affected others in a positive way. So I quit my job and embarked on a new career as a children's author
What I enjoy most about writing are the challenges. I like writing for different genres, and have so far written a picture book, a chapter book, and a middle-grade novel. Truthfully, I just want to continue improving. Once I create my characters, they begin to fashion the setting and plot around themselves. I assume very little at the beginning, and am always surprised by what I find.
I know that people often characterize my stories as "Native American" or of some similar nature and that's fine for reference purposes, but I intend for my books to go deeper than that. I try to weave real life into the stories naturally, helping me to attain my goal of offering a unique cultural and literary world through characters that laugh, cry, breathe, and, most importantly, live.
Praise for Rain Is Not My Indian Name…
"A wonderful novel of a present-day teen and her 'patch-work tribe."
-School Library Journal
“Rain's observations are appealingly wry, and readers …will find food for thought in this exploration of cultural identity. ”
-The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books