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Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American backgrounds and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah's feelings toward Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both.
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By Joleen Scott on 08-01-18
Indigeneity fell short
The good parts of this book included the imagery and intensity of tone. However, there were some misrepresentations when coming to the Cherokee elements of this novel. I grew up in a Cherokee community (I am ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ) in Oklahoma, near Cherokee County. One issue I had was saying that Sequoyah means “sparrow.” Tsisquaya (ji-s-qua-ya) means real bird/sparrow, according to traditional Keetoowah-Cherokee author Robert J. Conley. I grew up learning that Sequoyah means “pig foot or pig-like” because he had a limp when he walked. This leads me to another Cherokee issue I had in the first chapter when it says Sequoyah developed the Cherokee language. Sequoyah developed the syllabary/alphabet, not the language. We had language before him. Lastly, the teepee at the end made me a little sad because Cherokees never used teepees.
The forced spirituality felt uncomfortable and awkward, and seemed like it was meant for non-Natives. It felt like this novel wasn’t targeting me as its audience, even with the use of pan-Indian elements (spirit quest & dreamcatchers). It was nice to see N. Scott Momaday mentioned.
One of my worries is that it could perpetuate stereotypes of Natives being drunks/druggies. And I wonder why the author didn’t include ICWA, since it’s a big issue in Indian Country.
Looking past some of the misinformation/representation part of the novel, it’s very interesting and makes the bleak look vivid.
By Chris Morrison on 03-19-18
Although the book involves Native Americans in rural Oklahoma, this novel could really about anyone, bringing the ideas that everyone has their own story, some more tragic than others, and every person has their own set of problems and desires. There is no person in life who escapes unscathed. Although a little short, it's an excellent and well conceived novel and nicely presented by the reader.