In this innovative novel, a librarian of Cherokee ancestry rekindles and reinvents her Native identity by discovering the rhythm and spark of traditionally told stories in the most unusual places in the modern world. Ada Ronner, a librarian at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, hears books speak and senses their restless flow as they circulate. The same relentless energy and liberation of the story is also felt by Ada as she roller-skates at the Dust Bowl, a local skating rink, floating far ahead of her husband, Ether, a physics professor.
Hearing "the old Cherokee voices" when she skates and works in the Manuscript and Rare Book room in the library, Ada grows increasingly aware of the continuing power of Cherokee tradition today. Coming from a culture based in oral tradition, Ada discovers the potentially liberating role of the written word, and she finds her own empowerment as its promulgator and reinventor in the twenty-first century.
Designs of the Night Sky moves between the turbulent history of a tribe and the experiences of the survivors of that history still caught in turmoil. Rolling from past to present and present to past, Diane Glancy's story provokes and illumines while it invites us to reconsider the form and effect of Native American stories in today's world.