For the characters we meet in Toni Jensen's stories, the past is very much the present. Theirs are American Indian lives off the reservation, lives lived beyond the usual boundaries set for American Indian characters: migratory, often overlooked, yet carrying tradition with them into a future of difference and possibility. Drawing on American Indian oral traditions and her own Metis upbringing, Jensen tells stories that mix many lives and voices to offer fleeting perspectives on a world that reconfigures the tragedy and disconnection often found in narratives of American Indian life. A brother falls off the roof of an abandoned hotel, a young bride tries to connect with a family she's never met, and an adopted teenage girl seeks acceptance where she is viewed as an outsider. The reader also encounters a kidnapped nephew, strangers in a hotel, and even a stray dog: these are the souls that populate Jensen's stories, finding tentative connections with the past, the future, one another, and finally us.
Toni Jensen is an assistant professor of English at the University of Central Florida. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and have been reprinted in volumes such as New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 2007 and Best Stories from the Southwest.