Three powerful women, each representing a different generation, dominate the novel. Each of these women—Rayona, the fifteen-year-old girl; Christine, her mother; and Aunt Ida, supposedly Christine’s mother—also functions as the narrator of one of the novel’s three parts. It is, then, above all through their own voices and through the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions expressed in those voices that readers come to know the characters. In Rayona, readers recognize the adolescent’s uncertainties about her own identity and her place in the world. For Rayona, these anxieties are intensified by her mixed racial heritage and by the instabilities of her family life. It is no wonder that she is tempted to borrow an identity when she reads the letter the solid, middle-class De Marcos have written to their daughter Ellen. Yet it is no surprise that Rayona is able to leave this bourgeois fantasy behind, as her experience at the rodeo and her reconciliation with the mother whose illness Rayona can now accept allow her to come to terms with who she herself is.
Christine speaks on the run. Staying in one place, physically or emotionally, has never been her strongest trait. She went through a series of boys and men on the reservation, which she left years ago. She has never settled in a single place. She thought that in her relationship with Elgin she was settling on a single man, but when Elgin began to wander, it was not in Christine’s nature to stand...
(The entire section is 512 words.)