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Little Alexander K, known as Sasha, was born with no eyes. Originally Published by:. A baby boy born without eyes is in search for a loving home after being abandoned by his mother.

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On a first reading it is difficult to follow the narrative shifts, although the chapter headings are reliable guides. But, as one narrator reminds us, there are different ways of telling stories: "There's a way the older people have of telling a story, a way where the beginning is not the beginning, the end is not the end.

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It starts from a centre and moves away from there in such widening circles that you don't know how you will finally arrive at the point of understanding, which becomes itself another core, a new centre" On a second reading however, the reader, at least this reader, becomes a member of the whanau, extended family; the characters are familiar, their relationships, problems, secrets, idiosyncrasies, part of everyday life. It is like being welcomed onto a marae; we arrive as manuhiri, visitors, but after the powhiri, official welcome, and hongi, the mingling of breath, strangers become tangatawhenua, people of the land.

The prologue introduces the major characters through Tawera, talking from inside the womb.

Baby born without eyes needs new home after mum abandoned him

We experience Te Paania his mother, described as "the frog"; we hear of Glen, Tawera's absent and inconsequential father; meet Dave and Mahaki, the gay couple who protect and nurture the family; and welcome Kura the kuia, woman elder, who arrives to assist an impatient Tawera into the world. There are also hints of a presence, unnamed and unknown, the one character not so easily pinned down. Baby No-Eyes is deceased but highly animated and, as her name suggests, she has no eyes. How she comes to be eyeless is a chilling account of an actual event.

Baby No-eyes

The relationship between Tawera and his sister Baby No-Eyes, known as Baby, is the core of the novel and the most perverse in a story brimming with seven generations of relationships. Of the thirty-seven chapters, nine are given to Kura, the kuia who recounts the terrible and wondrous past. Eight chapters give voice to Tawera, teina, younger sibling of Baby No-Eyes, gifted artist and future historian. He has the last word, talking to us from the end of the story looking backward into the future.

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Thirteen [End Page ] chapters are Te Paania's, Tawera and Baby's mother, embodiment of the strength, wisdom, humor, and tenacity of Maori women who straddle that deep and terrifying chasm between past and future--the present. Seven chapters are for Mahaki, a new breed of warrior, trained in law and fiercely committed to regaining and protecting the land--our mokopunas', grandchildren's, birthright. The story begins with Kura, who tells of one of the most distressing and heart-wrenching times in Aotearoa's colonial history, when schools were pressed into obliterating the Maori language and culture.

For me, this section is painfully hard to read. Every Maori whanau will have stories similar to that described, and the memories remain, ever sharp and painful. Being killed by school, literally and metaphorically, may sound fantastic but it was, and to some extent still is, true enough.

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