Cover image for Looking for Lost Bird : a Jewish woman discovers her Navaho roots
Looking for Lost Bird : a Jewish woman discovers her Navaho roots
Melanson, Yvette D.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bard, [1999]

Physical Description:
233 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"An Avon book."
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.N3 M5174 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Adopted on the black market, Yvette went to live with an affluent older couple in New York. They filled her days with piano lessons, ballet and art classes, and wished her sweet dreams in a canopy bed. But then love faltered, replaced by grief and rejection. Striking out on her own, Yvette went to Israel and sought comfort among Kibbutz friends and army comrades, then returned to the states, no closer to finding peace with herself. With deep yearning and wry humor, Yvette tells of finally finding her reality--a truth that she could never have conjured for herself.

Moving to a hidden corner of the Navajo reservation, she is met by strangers who say they are her family. In the mystery of their ceremonies and in the daily rhythms of reservation life, she learns about Navajo spirituality, about medicine men and Changing Woman, about winds that whisper and ghosts that walk.

This is the story of a woman yearning to fit into an unknown heritage. Even as she learns to weave Navajo rugs, she looks for ways to intertwine her Jewish faith and the Navajo one to lace the Biblical story of Adam and Even with the Navajo tales of the corn people. Exploring the secrets of identity and the meaning of family, she measures the ties of upbringing against the tug of blood. What she finds is faith, in all its forms, and love, in all its faces.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is a surprising and extremely moving book. Surprising, because it is not, as the subtitle suggests, a shallow New Age vision quest or a similar commercial exploitation of Native American identity. Moving, because the story it tells--of how, with her twin brother, Melanson was stolen from her Navajo mother and placed in an adoption black market--is heart wrenching, all the more so when we learn how common this practice was midcentury. Thousands of Native American children were brought up without knowledge of their ethnic identity. Few have had the opportunity and the strength of heart to return to their families of origin. Melanson now lives in Navajoland, pioneering Internet sales of native crafts, but her transition has not been easy. This very well crafted book has the suspense of a novel as it engages us in Melanson's struggles of adjustment and keeps us wondering whether her lost twin will ever be found. For this woman and thousands like her, however, this is life, not fiction. --Patricia Monaghan

Publisher's Weekly Review

While growing up as an adopted child in a Jewish family, the author of this compelling memoir never quite fit in with expectations of who she was supposed to be. She didn't look Jewish. She wasn't the boy that her father wanted‘though she tried to be. Even her adoring mother found something to nudge her about: "Be a lady. Sit still. Don't act like a wild Indian." On the Internet, with help she attributes to both kind strangers and the Great Spirit, Melanson discovers the reason she didn't fit in, uncovering the bizarre truth that she is, in fact, Navajo. "Funny," everyone says to her, "you don't look Indian." This memoir of an extraordinarily eventful life is crafted like the rugs that Melanson has learned to make in the tradition of her birth family. First, she strings the warp of her story: her adoptive mother's adoration and death; her adoptive father's abandonment and his new wife's rejection of her; the tragic loves, deaths and separations that scarred her life; the happiness she finds with her far-from-perfect husband, Dickie; and the love she receives from her newfound birth family on a Navajo reservation. As she weaves, the patterns emerge, and, each time she reintroduces a thread, she explains that aspect of her life in more detail. The present tense from which she looks back is always moving forward in time as Melanson writes about her efforts to try to integrate the person she had been with the person she is becoming. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

You've seen the author on 20/20 and Maury Povich; now read the book. As a child, Melanson was adopted on the black market by Jewish parents and only as an adult learned that she was Navajo, stolen from her mother at birth. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.