2017 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle

Tim Tingle’s How I Became a Ghost is a work of historical fiction, set in 1830 in Choctaw Nation, Mississippi. The story is narrated by Isaac, a boy whose family is forced by the U.S. government to relocate and trek the Trail of Tears. From the beginning, readers know Isaac is to die, as he keeps referring to times both before and after he is a ghost. Tim Tingle is a member of the Choctaw Nation and a researcher and teacher of his culture, and so the narrative includes not only accurate (yet fictionalized) accounts of what life was like on the Trail of Tears, but also of Choctaw spiritual beliefs, particularly surrounding the ghosts of ancestors that assist Isaac and then welcome him into their ranks when it is his time. There are grand adventures in the book, too, especially when Isaac and his friend rescue a girl who was taken away from her family and forced to serve as cook for some of the soldiers. Readers should note that this is the first book of a planned trilogy.

It is obvious from the beautiful flow of the narrative of How I Became a Ghost that Tim Tingle is a great storyteller. Here is a wonderful video of Tingle telling the story of “How Rabbit Got His Short Tail” from Choctaw Days 2013 at the National Museum of the American Indian. It is filled with audience participation.

 

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