Based on actual events, Marlo Schalesky's novel of historical fiction begins in 1911, when the last Yahi Indian leaves the lonely woods behind and enters the "saldu", or white man's world. Taken in by the new Museum of Indian Artifacts, the Indian, Ishi, is introduced to many new people and concepts. Thomas Morgan, a young scientist, takes a personal interest in Ishi beyond his potential as a specimen of the last "Stone-Age Indian" in North America, and Thomas' wife, Allison forms a deep bond with Ishi. She had been abandoned as a child, and Allison carries loneliness in her heart, allowing her to understand Ishi's loneliness at being the last of his people. Ishi instinctively understands that Allison feels unworthy of love, and he is certain he has found the person to whom he must tell the story he has carried for so many years. As Allison learns the Yahi language, Ishi begins the secret tale of his people, a tale that will be lost unless he passes it on, a tale of unworthiness and ultimate redemption.
Only The Wind Remembers is a wonderful novel. Schalesky captures the mood and climate of the early 1900's capably, especially in reference to society's views concerning women's roles in the home and workplace. Allison Morgan, the main female character, struggles against 'fear of man", and her desire to be accepted by those she sees as "valuable people" skewes her ability to see what is valuable within herself. Ishi was, for this Broad, the most impressive character. Schalesky's writing of Ishi's thoughts and feelings throughout the novel, but especially before anyone else can speak his language, was well-done, indeed. From his mannerisms to his quiet pride to the beautiful telling of Yuna's Tale, Schalesky's depiction of Ishi as an Indian felt authentic. Of course, Ishi learns much from the cast of characters he encounters in the white man's world. His impressions of "saldu" life, society, technology, and relationships were thought provoking.
While Ishi learns much about inventions and technology, he teaches about acceptance, forgiveness, and faith.
Only The Wind Remembers is a powerful story of faith, sacrifice, and the great and enduring love that true forgiveness inspires.