Summary from Goodreads:
THE MOVING STORY OF A YOUNG TONGVA BRAVE'S STRUGGLE TOWARD MANHOOD AND SELF-AWAKENING. TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO A WARM, RICH LAND WHOSE NATURAL GIFTS NOURISH ITS PEOPLE, WHERE THE SPIRITS OF THE MOUNTAINS AND OAK WOODLANDS GUIDE THEM AND WHERE SPECIAL AWARENESS AND ABILITIES ARE TAUGHT ONLY TO THE ONE WHO IS MOST ALERT, COURAGEOUS AND OPEN TO TRUTH AND THE REALM OF SPIRIT. In THE WAY OF THE EAGLE: AN EARLY CALIFORNIA JOURNEY OF AWAKENING, Tacu struggles to understand and survive the baffling and often dangerous lessons of Takoda, his mysterious spiritual mentor, so he will be allowed to travel to the Place of the Stones to undergo his formal initiation into manhood. Only by doing so can he earn back the respect of his peers and court the maiden he loves, for he is now shunned by the village as a despicable coward. But he is being held to a different and difficult path by Takoda. He must learn life lessons that prepare him not just for his present life, but for all the ages to come. Tacu never imagines the crucial impact these teachings will have on him or how dramatically his life will change before his journey to manhood is complete.
I really enjoyed this book, and felt like it was a real tribute to a culture and a people that are worth recognizing and honoring. Like many Native American tribes, the Tongva "People of the Earth" were a people whose culture and way of life were wiped away when Europeans entered North America.
D.E. Lamont uses the story of Tacu, a young Tongva and his journey to manhood as a way to show readers how very special this culture was. Throughout the book, the author weaves in the spiritual beliefs of the culture and parallels that with how important self-reliance is, and that is shown through Tacu's journey. We follow him as he prepares to become a man and seeks that validation by going through the traditional initiation practices of his village, but his uncle shows him that true validation and approval come from ourselves. The message of this story is that we all need to look within ourselves for approval, not those around us.
The author's writing style comes across as effortless...when I was reading, it seemed as if I were right there, finding the path to my own self-reliance along with Tacu and I imagine that is just the way the author wanted it. To put it more plainly, she certainly has a way with words!
Like with most books I read, while the story was truly amazing, one of the most beneficial and interesting parts of the book was the "About the Author" section where D.E. Lamont explains the facts behind the Tongva culture, their demise, and the efforts being made to restore it for the remaining descendents and our country.
I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge the illustrator of this book, Jon H. Soeder. The author writes that" his contribution to The Way of the Eagle is especially meaningful not only because of the dimension his cover art and beautiful illustrations add, but because of his sensitivity to the natural world and its creatures." I would wholeheartedly agree, and add that the illustrations were done so beautifully and thoughtfully that they added the perfect element to accompany the written text. Here are some examples of what I am talking about:
They are stunning, aren't they?
For more information, please visit D.E. Lamont's website here
For more information on the Tongva people visit here
D.E. also offers an amazing blog that I highly recommend to all readers - there is a piece she just recently wrote about how Native American spirituality and everyday life are so interwoven. It, along with the book, should be required reading for high school students...in my opinion of course! You can find her blog and post here.