A Council of Dolls” by Mona Susan Power

Review by by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian

Three generations of Lakota women, all with a favorite doll in hand, live their lives from the 1960s back to the 1880s. The dolls range from one handcrafted and salvaged from a massacre to a doll manufactured in a factory on Long Island. Each doll is present during a pivotal part of their girl’s life, a witness to events that shape the young person’s future. What is the purpose and power of a doll?

The reverse order of the telling, a mother in one tale becoming the daughter in another, makes the reader keep re-evaluating their judgments based on the lives the young girl lived. The Indian Boarding School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a character in itself impacting all these young lives and the lives of an entire people. Those looking for a character study and a glimpse of unknown history will understand why this novel was longlisted for the National Book Award.