I had not heard of Ada Blackjack before seeing this book. The story sounded interesting, and since it was on sale, I figured why not.
Blackjack was only of five people (and the only woman as well as the only Inuit) to go to Wrangel Island, a decision that seems to be an ill conceived attempt to prove a silly point as well as to gain a useless island from Russia.
Gain for the Canadians that is.
This book will make you want to find Dr Who, steal the Tardis, go back in time, and hit people upside the head.
While Blackjack was Inuit (Eskimo), she was raised in the city so the survival skills that many of people learned, she didn’t have. Her first husband was abusive, and her first son ill. She took a job as a seamstress to the men going to Wrangel Island. Once there, far from home, things went bad quickly.
It is to Niven’s credit that she doesn’t whitewash anything, though she presents it with a degree of understanding. While the men’s treatment of Blackjack at some points is reprehensible, Niven points out why the men might have saw it as necessary, even as she points out while Blackjack acted the way she did. The treatment of Blackjack after her rescue is less understandable. The best parts of the book are those chronicling Blackjack’s struggle to survive on the island, in particular her discovery of her strength.
The book does confront, though doesn’t entirely answer, questions about men and women were viewed, and the white man’s view of the Inuit, in particular of Inuit women.