Linda Hogan’s novel Solar Storms is a beautifully written window into the life of an American Indian teenager and the family that she is inextricably bound to. Drawing on her own experiences from growing up a Chickasaw Indian, Hogan is able to paint a realistic and deeply touching first person narrative that not only tells her protagonist Angela’s story, but also gives overwhelmingly tangible descriptions of life as an American Indian.
Angela, a seventeen-year-old American Indian girl, tells her story of searching for her birth mother. After searching court records, she finds a woman whom she believes to be her great grandmother and who, by some crazy fate, is still alive. After getting in touch with this woman, Angela begins her journey to find her mother. At many points in her quest, Angela stops to reflect on her surroundings. At times, she describes her great-grandmother Agnes, who is now traveling with her, wears a blue-gray tattered fur coat and carries two plastic grocery bags, one in each hand, of all of their belongings.
The true strength in Hogan’s writing is her ability to tap into the honest American Indian way of relating all things back to the earth that created them. Even Agnes and Angela see themselves as a part of a whole, and also as people who will one day return to the earth that they came from. Hogan constantly notes the smells of the earth and the texture of the nature that surrounds them—Angela smells the musky smell of autumn and notices winters without wolves. There is a heightened level of perception that Hogan not only writes, but lends to her readers as well.
Though there have been many successful American Indian authors, and even female American Indian authors such as Louise Erdrich and Joy Harjo, Hogan finds her own niche within this already unique group by fully embodying her teenage character. She seamlessly weaves her story into those of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, all the while constructing a setting so real that readers may feel like they are watching the story unfold.