The Dance Boots

Stories by Linda LeGarde Grover


"Simply mesmerizing."

"Linda LeGarde Grover knows how to end a story—and manages to achieve both circularity and closure in each and every one. This is an impressive feat in and of itself, but for a collection of linked stories like The Dance Boots, which twist and tie and loop back on one another, the achievement is even more remarkable."
ForeWord Reviews

"A bright and determined vitality."
Publishers Weekly

"With stunning sentences and other stylistic elements reminiscent of Hemingway, Wolfe, Tan and others, this collection dazzles with its complex characters, rustic settings, and authentic situations."
Dark Sky magazine

“Grover’s sense of character and setting in these stories is so immediate, so vital. She has put the Mozhay Point Indian Reservation on the literary map.”
—Geary Hobson, author of The Last of the Ofos

"Grover neither sentimentalizes nor victimizes indigenous people but rather shows them as the complex humans they are."
Minnesota Reads

“The powerful Ojibwe women in Linda LeGarde Grover’s Dance Boots tell stories in 'the rhythm and pattern of repeating and echoing, re-echoing and returning,' the pattern that keeps them strong. They need to be strong in the face of a terrible monster, one no less ferocious than those in Ojibwe traditional tales, one that steals children and returns them altered, alien, broken: the boarding schools. These are stories of survival as well, and as we follow the rhythm of her narrative we find ourselves joining the dance of a culture resurgent, a dance that returns lost children, that begins to heal a world.”
—Heid E. Erdrich, author of National Monuments

“In eight beautifully crafted Ojibwe stories, Grover’s characters, members of the LaForce family, learn to survive Indian boarding school, a brutal marriage, and even how to set pins in a bowling alley all the while taking care to remember the ancestors and the road home. Whether home is the mythic Mozhay Point Indian Reservation, a clapboard house, or a horse paradise of woods near Duluth, Minnesota, Grover’s The Dance Boots is an Ojibwe jingle dance that bounced me off the page, and back on again. A wonderful read!”
—LeAnne Howe, author of Shell Shaker and Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story

"As we weave in and out of lives and times, the "I" that emerges here and there reminds us of how these stories have been transmitted from one generation to the next, in the end creating one vast but finely detailed tapestry of the life and history of a community."
Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Through her first-person stories, told in the voices of Ojibwe men or women, Grover leads readers to better understand what they have never experienced."
Indian Country Today

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In this stirring collection of linked stories, Linda LeGarde Grover portrays an Ojibwe community struggling to follow traditional ways of life in the face of a relentlessly changing world.

In the title story an aunt recounts the harsh legacy of Indian boarding schools that tried to break the indigenous culture. In doing so she passes on to her niece the Ojibwe tradition of honoring elders through their stories. In “Refugees Living and Dying in the West End of Duluth,” this same niece comes of age in the 1970s against the backdrop of her forcibly dispersed family. A cycle of boarding schools, alcoholism, and violence haunts these stories even as the characters find beauty and solace in their large extended families.

With its attention to the Ojibwe language, customs, and history, this unique collection of riveting stories illuminates the very nature of storytelling. The Dance Boots narrates a century’s evolution of Native Americans making choices and compromises, often dictated by a white majority, as they try to balance survival, tribal traditions, and obligations to future generations.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 152 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


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Linda LeGarde Grover is an associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is the coauthor of A Childhood in Minnesota: Exploring the Lives of Ojibwe and Immigrant Families 1880–1920 and the author of a poetry chapbook, The Indian at Indian School. Her manuscript The Road Back to Sweetgrass won the Native Writers Circle of the Americas First Book Award.