Susan Hazen-Hammond,
Spider Woman's Web: Traditional Native American Tales About Women's Power
(Perigee, 1999)

Spider Woman's Web is not your average Native American folklore collection. Written by a former professor of psychology, this book is meant to be used as a self-help manual for women. The stories are gender specific and were chosen to represent the "power, strength and vitality of women."

Each of the 25 stories is followed by a section called "Connecting the Story to Your Life." Here you find a discussion of the story and a list of questions designed to help you find the deeper meaning of the story and to develop "a stronger sense of self."

The introduction explains that this book is not meant to create friction between men and women, but help reduce it. The author has included a list of suggestions to help readers maximize their benefit from the book.

The stories came from throughout America. Many include songs and have notations about how the story varies between tribes or regions.

Although the author gathered the stories from various Native Americans, she has retold the stories in her own words. She seems skilled at translating oral stories into written ones, but her true gift lies in the analysis of the stories. She locates and illuminates the essence of the story and the motivations of the characters.

Spider Woman's Web is a magnificent tool for self-discovery for women. It is an excellent gift for friends and family. Sharing this book with other women can lead to a new type and level of discussion between yourself and them.

Every woman needs to have a copy. This is one book a woman can enjoy again and again. The stories will have different meanings at different times and under different circumstances in her life. Yet, they will always reveal her inner strength to her. This book is the literary diamond for women.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

13 September 2008

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