Red Dove, Run Through the Fire
by Sonia Antaki
Genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Print Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Reviewed by Samantha Hui
Compassion is the ultimate superpower. Run Through the Fire teaches the lesson that to be a person who gets heard, you must be a person who listens.
“That story was hers alone, as powerful as any weapon she could ever possess.”
Run Through the Fire is a middle grade historical novel that reminds us of the real power of storytelling. The character of Red Dove is a symbol for truth and innocence; with her determination to bring two worlds together and her desire to forgive those who are seemingly unforgivable, Red Dove stands as a great role model for younger audiences. Run Through the Fire is the final book in Sonia Antaki’s Red Dove Trilogy. This book is energetic, heartfelt, and honest: a great finale for the trilogy.
“Because I’m half white, Grandfather called me Iyeshka – a traveler between worlds – but will I ever get to do what I want: bring those worlds together?”
Red Dove is half Lakota Sioux and half white, and all she wants is to bring together her two worlds and reveal the truth about her history and culture to those who have been misinformed. She’s given the opportunity to tell her story at a variety show that will be presented on a stage in New York.
However, other people seem to have other plans for her. Mr. Henderson, the owner of the stage, does not want Red Dove to tell such sad stories about the abuse Native American children face at boarding schools meant to assimilate them to white culture or about the truth of the Massacre of Wounded Knee. Instead, she should perform a poem written by a white man.
Sister Agatha, the cruel nun who abused the girls at the boarding school Red Dove attended, re-emerges, needing help from Red Dove in uncovering the truth behind a years’ long lie. Telling her story will take more than just speaking the truth. Red Dove will also need to figure out how to unblock the ears of those who do not want to listen.
“I’ve seen death before, but this is different. This is someone I wanted to love, but couldn’t, someone I wanted to know, but didn’t…and now it might be too late.”
Red Dove has a power bestowed upon her from her grandfather. The pouch he gave her gives her the ability to read the minds of those around her and to know what they need to hear in order to accept the truth.
What I love about this book is how compassion is the virtue placed above everything else in Red Dove’s eyes. Red Dove feels sympathy for her dying father who abandoned her in her youth; she is compassionate toward Sister Agatha who was needlessly cruel to the girls at the boarding school; she seeks to teach the hecklers at the performance who don’t deserve her patience.
Ultimately, Red Dove’s power is the ability to listen closely and understand where others are coming from. Red Dove is a great hero for young audiences because not only does she seek to speak the truth, but to tell it in a way that speaks to the listener’s personal experiences.
“If you want them to listen to you,
“Then you must listen to them—
“To their thoughts and feelings,
“So you will know
“What it is that they
“Need to hear.”
Antaki’s way of storytelling will keep audiences engaged and excited. I found myself speeding through the book, craving to know what happens next at every moment. Why has Sister Agatha suddenly come back into Red Dove’s life? Will Red Dove finally be able to tell her story to a large audience? Will Red Dove find her way back to her family? This is the first book in the trilogy I read, and I applaud Antaki for writing such a captivating continuation of a larger story that could easily be a standalone novel. Because we are dropped in the middle of Red Dove’s journey as a performer, there were moments at the beginning where I struggled to grasp who all the characters were, many of whom I assume were introduced in the previous books. However, I was able to quickly catch up and keep pace with the story.
“Nothing is impossible dearie. The universe is infinite, after all. And if it’s infinite then infinity exists, and if infinity exists then everything exists – so anything is possible.”
Red Dove, Run Through the Fire is a captivating novel about how the determination of a 14-year-old girl can change the lives of all those around her. Real life people such as Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley are introduced and real-life events such as the Massacre of Wounded Knee are acknowledged; this book is effective in getting younger readers mindful of and interested in history. This is a fun and insightful book for young audiences interested in American history and wanting to make a change.
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