Soyala Earns Another Glowing Review
Soyala: Daughter of the Desert
By Cindy Burkart Maynard
173 pages, including a short glossary and timeline
Let’s go back almost a millennium to the American southwest and see what the people were like back then. How did they make life work in the pueblos? How did the family structure work? How did they gather their food and prepare it? Were there wars and disease to cope with?
In Cindy Maynard’s book, we learn all of that, and more. Through the life of Soyala, who we meet as a young girl, the reader joins Soyala
as she faces everyday life in the time and place mentioned above. The narrative involves four generations of her family, as well as other members of the community – some of whom come and go, affecting Soyala and her fellow inhabitants of the particular pueblo in which they live. In time, conditions demand that Soyala and her group move on to a larger pueblo where they must fit in among a different clan. There is love and loss along the way, and once established with the new clan, there is more. A few twists of joy and tragedy cross Soyala’s path over the years, but there will certainly be no spoilers here.
Ms. Maynard does a brilliant job in illustrating conditions as Soyala experiences them. The skies, the weather conditions, the personalities of the people, and even the strife-ridden situation are deftly described. As Soyala grows into womanhood and then into motherhood and beyond, the reader will meet shamans, hunters, potential suitors for Soyala’s hand, wise folks, and several relatives and village members. Adventure after adventure form Soyala into the person she becomes.
There are some vividly described incidents in the life of Soyala that have me recommend this book for high school age readers and older. The book reads easily, all within the 173 pages, which is a tribute to the author’s concise and specific word choices.