Taylor is an independent, young woman who has always been able to take care of herself. She spent her entire youth avoiding pregnancy, only to find herself an instant mother one night at a bar in Oklahoma. She plays a "mother bear" kind of role in the novel: she will go to any means to protect her daughter, and to keep Turtle with her. All Taylor's actions are motivated by this conviction. Jax says at one point that Taylor "enjoys" him, but she "loves" Turtle. Indeed, Taylor instinctually reacts in terms of Turtle, and not in terms of Jax. On her dates in Seattle, she does not even consider leaving Turtle at home. She is an uncompromising and determined mother.

Taylor does change over the course of the novel. When she has a run of bad luck and hardship, she starts to doubt her own capabilities. She doubts her own mothering ability and even makes deprecatory remarks about her figure—something she has never done before. The novel's aim is not to devalue her self-confidence, nor to suggest she is incapable. Rather, Taylor represents the idea that even the most independent, capable people need a family. The novel suggests that needing other people for moral or even economic support is not a sign of weakness. In some ways she needs the Cherokee Nation without knowing it.