The book “Winners” is about a fifteen-year-old Indian boy, Jordy Threebears, who has lived almost his whole life with white people, because he is an orphan. Now he is going to live with his grandfather (Joe) in an Indian reservation (Ash Creek Blackfoot Reserve). When Jordy start at the new school he get to know the P.E. teacher (miss MacTavish) rather well.
Jordy’s mother died when he was seven years old, and he doesn’t remember to much about her, but after a while he starts to remember, it is also great help that he get to see a few pictures of her.
One day Jordy is out walking when suddenly a white man in a truck throws a beer bottle in his head. The good mood that Jordy was in disappears after that incident, and it really gets to much for him when someone accidentally hits him in the head with a basketball. After this Jordy runs away into the prairie, there it starts snowing and Jordy gets lost, but then a man on a horse shows up, he is whispering the word “Siksika”, Jordy follows the man and after a while Jordy can see a cottage with light. The cottage turns out to be the MacKenci ranch where Erasmus Wathermedicine lives, he takes care of Jordy.
Jordy needs to go to the hospital after the night in the cold prairie. While Jordy is in the hospital he learns a lot about his parents, from people who visit him. He also talks to Joe about horses.
After Jordy gets home from the hospital he and Joe have a talk about how Jordy’s mother was killed, and about when Joe was in jail for killing his daughter’s killer.
Now it’s Christmas, Jordy gets a wild horse, caught by Erasmus, from Joe. The day after a lot of neighbours come to Joe and Jordy, together they build a corral. Jordy have some trouble taming the horse so he goes to visit the reservation chief (Albert Greenshoots) there he gets both advice and many Indian stories.
Together Joe and Albert tame the horse, they teach it to have a saddle on it’s back, but Jordy is afraid to ride it. He tells miss MacTavish about his horse, and that he can’t ride her. Miss MacTavish tells Jordy about Emily, a blind girl, she has been giving riding lessons. Jordy agree to be Emily’s riding mate, he really like Emily. The foreman at the ranch, Fred Brady, is the man who threw the bottle in Jordy’s head and the brother of the man that killed Jordy’s mother. After riding with Emily Jordy gets the courage to saddle his own horse and ride it. Jordy goes riding in the prairie, after the ride he meets Marabel Hind, she had been teaching Jordy’s mother at school.
Jordy and Emily goes for a long ride, when they get back Emily’s parents are mad because they didn’t say where they were going. Jordy gets in a fight with Brady because he called his mother a dog, Emily’s father hear it and Brady gets fired. The same night Jordy’s horse disappears. It’s probably stolen. Jordy goes to a rodeo with Mr. Campbell (the man who brought him to his grandfather), there he find his horse, and he rides her home.
Emily and Jordy decides to be in a race, Joe makes an Indian saddle his horse. In the race Emily falls off the horse and they have to slow down. Jordy discover that he has got a really good horse, and he gets invited to another race. In the race there is a lot of good horses and riders, among them is Fred Brady. Brady accuses Jordy of cheating, but Jordy wins after all. And he decides to call his horse Siksika.
This is a novel about a young boy, and his quest for an identity. Jordy is an Indian, but because he has lived almost his whole life with whites he is an outsider on both sides. He has been splitted out of his Indian culture, but doesn’t look like a white. In a way he is an Indian with a white boys mind and thoughts. Through the story Jordy meets a lot of people and they all help him in their own way, while he is “seeking for himself”.
One of the persons who help Jordy is his grandfather, Joe, he has been to jail, and that is where he has learned about Indian culture. He didn’t realise before he got in jail how important it was to take care of your roots, he tell Jordy a lot of things he has learned from experience, for instance that education is important, without it you may be used and get in trouble. He also tells Jordy about marriage and how important it is to stick to your wife. Joe doesn’t like white people, mainly because they killed his wife.
Albert Greenshoots is the chief of the reservation, he learn Jordy a lot about Indian culture, he shows Jordy old Indian objects and tells him Indian stories. Albert knows a lot about horses and tell Jordy a story that helps him find a way of helping his horse by using an old Indian saddle. Albert also said to Jordy, by one occasion, that Jordy got to find a vision for himself, and by that he means that Jordy has to find his own place in society. I believe that made Jordy think.
Erasmus Wathermedicine was the man that caught Siksika. He is an Indian, but has nothing against whites, his opinion is that all people are individuals and that you are either good or bad, it doesn’t matter what race you are. He is also an outsider in the Indian society. Miss MacTavish also plays an important part in Jordy’s quest, she is tolerant and helpful, she takes him to meet Emily and there he learns that often other’s needs have to come before his.
When Jordy first gets introduced to Emily and her parents the parents seem a little bit sceptic, but I don’t think that is because Jordy is an Indian, but because they are worried about their blind daughter and maybe they are a little bit overprotective. They look at different races the same way as Erasmus. And Emily “teach” him to talk more, because she is blind and needs someone to tell her what is happening, in the race she fell of the horse, that is sort of a metaphor for that if you don’t tell people what’s going on the consequences may be fatal.
Marabel Hind used to be Jordy’s mother’s teacher, she talks to Jordy about school and in a way I think she is one of the reasons why he sticks to it. Jordy quit school, but he attend correspondence classes. Marabel tells Jordy about when his mother went to school, she was a very smart student and everyone liked her. That may have made Jordy put up his mind that one day he would be just as good.
Another person that knew his mother well is Jenny Greyhouse, she used to be her best friend. She feels obligated to take care of Jordy, but not forced. She has got children of her own, but she invites Jordy to come and visit, and in a way I think she become the mother figure that Jordy needs. She helps him to remember his past, and that is very important when you want to know what to do in the future. Mr. Campbell is the man from social services that brought Jordy to his grandfather. He tells Jordy about both his father and mother, and is actually the first person to show Jordy a picture of his mother, he tells Jordy that his father was a famous rodeo rider, now Jordy wants to become one to.
I think Jordy was really lucky to have all these people to help him when he was seeking for his own identity, even though he doesn’t realise that they do. Every person in the novel is important for how he ends up in the end. When we first “met” him in the beginning of the book he acted like a white boy, but through all his new friends in the reservation he learns about his Indian background, I think that he in a way realises how lucky he is to be able to learn from both cultures. He realises that he has come home because everyone is being very nice to him, and he also, in a dream when he is lost in the prairie, sees a man on a horse whispering “Siksika”, which is probably an old Indian word. I also think it is important for Jordy that people know who his parents were and in that way also know a bit about him.
I liked this book, because it is exciting and you are always curios about what will happen in the end. It’s maybe a bit boring in the beginning because things go so slow, you get so much information, but as you get on with the book you see that all this information was necessary. I think the theme in the book, about Jordy quest for his identity, is something that we all go through, maybe not in such a comprehensive way as Jordy, but we all have to “look for” our own identity at least once in our life, to figure out who we really are.