Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Girl with Skirt of Stars by Jennifer Kitchell

Title: Girl with Skirt of Stars
Author: Jennifer Kitchell
Publisher: Pronghorn Press
Year: 2009
A LibraryThing Early Reviewers Book

Lilli Chischilly is a Navajo lawyer who has found a pair of mutilated coyote carcasses carefully laid out on the hood of her vehicle. This is clearly a message, but the meaning of the message is a mystery. In the meantime, Jerome, Lilli's childhood soul mate, has returned to the Navajo Nation and alludes to a dark and burdensome secret that he wants Lilli to discover. Lilli has this on her mind when her boss asks her to escort presidential candidate Lee, his family and handlers on a river raft trip down the Grand Canyon. Lilli rightly guesses that this is a publicity stunt and has everything to do with the politics of water and land use that is ever present in the Western United States. If all of this isn't enough, a sniper with a grudge over a century old massacre is stalking the presidential candidate and his family with massacre plans of his own.

The plot of Girl with Skirt of Stars is fast paced and kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. I did find the narrative a bit choppy and the characters lacking in depth, though, and this kept me from attaching to and caring very deeply about them. This type of book seems to call for better character development than Kitchell provided. There were also elements of the story that seemed quite important yet were never developed and just got dropped at the end. This is Kitchell's debut novel, so I'm hoping that these shortfalls are something that will improve in future.

As a native of the Southwest, I thought the descriptions of the Four Corners area were beautiful and I was drawn into the setting. The inclusion of quite a few Navajo words (there is a glossary at the end of the book) and how those words "mean" within the Navajo culture was a fantastic look into a little known people group. Language nuance is an important part of Kitchell's story.

Overall, I was pleased with Girl with Skirt of Stars and would recommend it to those interested in a fast paced novel set in the Southwest.

I would like to thank the publisher, Pronghorn Press, for providing me with a review copy of Girl with Skirt of Stars.


  1. This definitely sounds interesting! Do you know if the author is Navajo?

  2. Eva: That is a good question! The author is not Navajo, but did spend a lot of time amongst the people and in the Four Corners area while growing up. I was quite impressed with her knowledge of the people, culture, and landscape.

  3. Thank you for another great review, Terri. I am not familiar with this book, but it does sound interesting. I love books that keep me up late into the night. Unfortunately, it's harder to do because sleep often overtakes me no matter how exciting a book may be. :-S Is this going to be a series? Hopefully the author's writing will improve in time.

  4. This sounds fascinating, and I love that it includes Navajo culture - and it sounds like it was well-researched too, which is definitely important.

  5. I've only just read a short story about military vets that included the Navajo and I'm excited about this book. Thanks for the review and I'll be on the lookout for this one. Right now, it goes into the wish list because I'm on another book-buying ban!