Saturday, November 10, 2018

Book Review: Beneath the Same Stars by Phyllis Cole-Dai

Rating 5 out of 5 Stars

Purchase the Book!
Beneath the Same Stars: A Novel of the 1862 U.S. – Dakota War by Phyllis Cole-Dai is a well-written historical fiction account of The Dakota War of 1862 from the viewpoint of Sarah Wakefield. Cole-Dai’s depiction of such a tragic historical event highlights the strained and often horrendous relationship with Native Americans, the superiority complexes that encouraged violence and other vices, and how a woman questioned the actions and motives of those involved.

Because of Cole-Dai’s ability to change a historical event into such a brilliant tale, I became fascinated with understanding the historical context of The Dakota War of 1862. Cole-Dai combines storytelling with history using authentic language and engaging descriptions. Before reading Beneath the Same Stars, my knowledge of The Dakota War was minimal, but this book prompted me to research what I could find about this heartbreaking event.

Through the point of view of Sarah Wakefield, Cole Dai’s presents an intriguing tale that makes one question ideologies that shaped and transformed the evolution of the United States. I like how Sarah is not your typical woman during the era of the 1800s. She’s like a rebel that attempts to “live her best life” regardless of what is occurring around her. What do I like about Sarah this most? I don’t think that I can pinpoint one significant thing. She dressed like a man to escape. She challenges flawed ideology about race and gender. She makes you examine your own understanding of the role of class. Sarah demonstrates how selflessness can transform the lives of people around you.

Even though this is a fictional account of The Dakota War, Cole-Dai engages you in the text as if it genuinely happened just the way she wrote it. The beginning of the book starts off a little slow, but I encourage you to stick around until the end to truly discover Cole-Dai’s talent as a writer. Despite being set in 1862, the reoccurring themes of courage and challenging self-serving ideologies are applicable in the present day, especially with the discussion of current events. Within this text, there is a quality of characters, unlike anything you have ever read.

With the Thanksgiving Holiday quickly approaching, I believe that you will enjoy reading Beneath the Same Stars and gain a very thought-provoking view to analyze the history of the United States. I love that Cole Dai seems to silently invoke in the reader a desire to be open to differences that people possess and to appreciate the complexity of history to make effective change. I am glad that I was able to read this text, and I hope that you take the time to read it as well. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. 

About the Book

August 18, 1862. On the Sioux reservation in southwestern Minnesota, Indians desperate for food and freedom rise up against whites in the region. Sarah Wakefield, the wife of a physician, is taken captive with her two babies. Their fate falls into the hands of the warrior ─ćaske, with whom she has slim acquaintance. As war rages, little does she know how entwined their lives will become.
Purchase the Book.

Beneath the Same Stars is the gripping story of two people, caught between worlds, who are willing to do almost anything to defend those they care about—including each other. But the drama is bigger than themselves. Tragic forces have been set in motion.

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