Clara Lhee LaCroix has had her fair share of suffering—first her partner and then her baby. Amid hardship, Clara keeps busy as owner of Crossroads Ranch, the “biggest mustang training facility” that uses equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) for those undergoing counseling. Adversity hits again when an accident involving one of the ranch’s transporting trucks and a seventeen-year-old drunk driver (Andy Black Hawk) results in the death of Big Ben, her deceased partner’s beloved horse. Clara is shocked to learn that the accused teen driver, who is from the nearby reservation, is the newest client undergoing EAP. Clara assigns Andy the perfect task—to dig Ben’s grave and bury him. Unfortunately, he never gets to bury Ben since he gets arrested the following morning on drug charges.
Joe Black Hawk, who has known hardship longer than he cares to remember, insists on completing his son’s work. Many days later, Joe shows up unannounced planting grass seeds on Ben’s grave. In a spur of the moment decision, Clara hires Joe to help out at the ranch—quite an ironic move on Clara’s part since she has issues with Native Americans. Although the two don’t always see eye to eye, one thing they do agree on is their love for horses. When adverse situations continue to arise Clara and Joe have no choice but to take a stark look at their damaged backgrounds and find ways to move beyond their difficulties.
Lisa Hare shines a light on the plight of Native Americans in her debut western novel. A profoundly stunning eye opening read, Hare’s gripping narrative zeroes in on the lives of two people who live in different worlds. While a work of fiction, Hare deftly weaves in factual information into her storyline, such as equine assisted psychotherapy, Mustang sanctuaries, and Native Americans’ horrific history (i.e. Wounded Knee incident). Most notable is her portrayal of rez (reservation) life. Hare’s brutally honest description of Native Americans’ realm should send a wake up call to every single reader to the unconscionable treatment of these indigenous people. No Dogs or Indians is a wonderfully balanced array of alternating character scenes, uncomfortable history, and plenty of twists and turns. Definitely Pulitzer Prize material with Oscar-awarding Silver Screen potential!! Kudos to Ms. Hare for an outstanding piece of unforgettable literature!
A timely must read by all! Once you open it, you won’t be able to put it down. Heart wrenching and eye opening, it will make you angry and hopeful at the same time.