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Cherokee America

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From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud's Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center. It's the early spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation West. A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a pre From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud's Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center. It's the early spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation West. A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a preacher have all gone missing. Cherokee America Singer, known as "Check," a wealthy farmer, mother of five boys, and soon-to-be widow, is not amused. In this epic of the American frontier, several plots intertwine around the heroic and resolute Check: her son is caught in a compromising position that results in murder; a neighbor disappears; another man is killed. The tension mounts and the violence escalates as Check's mixed race family, friends, and neighbors come together to protect their community--and painfully expel one of their own. Cherokee America vividly, and often with humor, explores the bonds--of blood and place, of buried histories and half-told tales, of past grief and present injury--that connect a colorful, eclectic cast of characters, anchored by the clever, determined, and unforgettable Check.


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From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud's Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center. It's the early spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation West. A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a pre From the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Maud's Line, an epic novel that follows a web of complex family alliances and culture clashes in the Cherokee Nation during the aftermath of the Civil War, and the unforgettable woman at its center. It's the early spring of 1875 in the Cherokee Nation West. A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a preacher have all gone missing. Cherokee America Singer, known as "Check," a wealthy farmer, mother of five boys, and soon-to-be widow, is not amused. In this epic of the American frontier, several plots intertwine around the heroic and resolute Check: her son is caught in a compromising position that results in murder; a neighbor disappears; another man is killed. The tension mounts and the violence escalates as Check's mixed race family, friends, and neighbors come together to protect their community--and painfully expel one of their own. Cherokee America vividly, and often with humor, explores the bonds--of blood and place, of buried histories and half-told tales, of past grief and present injury--that connect a colorful, eclectic cast of characters, anchored by the clever, determined, and unforgettable Check.

30 review for Cherokee America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    You have to go into this one prepared... You need to know going into Cherokee America that there are gobs of characters, and they will be introduced rather quickly for the first chunk of the book. I read a review that mentioned bookmarking those pages where the characters are introduced, and that helped me keep up. Once you have the characters down, there is much to love within this story. The year is 1875, and the setting is Cherokee Nation West. Cherokee America Singer, nicknamed “Check,” is ou You have to go into this one prepared... You need to know going into Cherokee America that there are gobs of characters, and they will be introduced rather quickly for the first chunk of the book. I read a review that mentioned bookmarking those pages where the characters are introduced, and that helped me keep up. Once you have the characters down, there is much to love within this story. The year is 1875, and the setting is Cherokee Nation West. Cherokee America Singer, nicknamed “Check,” is our beloved, strong main character. She’s a wealthy mother to five boys, finding her fortune in farming. There are multiple plots to follow. A murder involving one of her sons, a neighbor disappears, a gold stash is stolen- basically, bad things are happening on the sometimes lawless frontier. The violence seems to escalating, and something has to be done. What can Check get her community to do? The frontier is a land of rough and tumble, and Margaret Verble’s writing transports you to that fervent time and place. Check is a hero of a character- one to admire, one to shake your head, one to be in awe of her sheer grit and determination. This is a dense, epic story, requiring patience, but with that investment, I found the pay-off residing in my fondness for Check and her family. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    There are just too many characters and too many distractions to hold my interest. I really was taken by Check, the main character snd interested in the time period . Maybe I’ll pick it up another time when I can focus more. For now , I’m setting this aside .

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I would like to thank Edelweiss for this ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). It's due to be released February 19, 2019. I had very mixed feelings about this one. Even though I was interested in reading the ARC and was sent it last May, I struggled to pick it up. I have fallen back in love with historical fiction and decided to pick this up and read it before it was released. However, I found it difficult to get through. I kept putting it down. I nearly DNFed (did not finish) it several times. It is 40 I would like to thank Edelweiss for this ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). It's due to be released February 19, 2019. I had very mixed feelings about this one. Even though I was interested in reading the ARC and was sent it last May, I struggled to pick it up. I have fallen back in love with historical fiction and decided to pick this up and read it before it was released. However, I found it difficult to get through. I kept putting it down. I nearly DNFed (did not finish) it several times. It is 400 pages and the material is very dense. I'm also unfamiliar with the setting (1875 Cherokee-Western from a Cherokee point-of-view). I'm not a huge fan of westerns, but I wanted to learn more about the Native American experience during that time. And I felt that I did. You're introduced to so many characters at the start. Usually this is a non-issue for me, but I found it difficult to form attachments to most of the characters. I did like the main character, Check. She is determined And a very strong female lead. Also the caring nature of another character, Ezell. Check is the matriarch of her wealthy farming family on a reserve. She is of Cherokee descent. Her husband, who is white, is slowly dying and she must care for him and her five children (though the ages range quite a bit - a couple are older and able to care for themselves). She is thrown into a fragile situation when one of her servants, Puny, married to their cook Ezell, impregnates a 14 year old girl. The girl isn't lactating and the baby is starving, so Check swoops in and tries to help. There are several subplots interwoven, including buried gold, a missing preacher, and a murder. We also learn a bit about the Trail of Tears and the Civil War, which was fascinating. We see many race relations as a good portion of the characters are either Native Americans, black, and white. Their interactions are peaceable at first, until something causes tensions between them. I think what I found difficult was not only the density and lack of attachment to characters, but also the fluidity of the plot as it went off on several subplots. It wasn't a compelling or enjoyable read (for my personal tastes), but I did feel I learned quite a bit. I also really appreciate that several characters were based off of real people. I loved that this was an Own Voices novel. The author's other book Maud's Line was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. So I think it is definitely worth a read, if it interests you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Reading Badger

    The book starts a bit slow, introducing the main character of the novel, Check Singer, the matriarch of an important family of farmers in the area, of Cherokee descent. Her husband is dying, and she has to deal with the fear and sadness of losing him but at the same time, stay strong for her five children. After that, I would have expected for the action to pick up a bit, but that did not happen. Read the full review: https://readingbadger.club/2018/11/28... Final thoughts, I warmly recommend thi The book starts a bit slow, introducing the main character of the novel, Check Singer, the matriarch of an important family of farmers in the area, of Cherokee descent. Her husband is dying, and she has to deal with the fear and sadness of losing him but at the same time, stay strong for her five children. After that, I would have expected for the action to pick up a bit, but that did not happen. Read the full review: https://readingbadger.club/2018/11/28... Final thoughts, I warmly recommend this book, especially now that the holiday season is almost here and there is nothing better to do on a cold winter day then stay in bed with a good book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    This book intrigued me for one reason—it sounded different. This is an ‘Own Voices’ book so I loved that it would be more about people on the fringes and as a historian this book held a lot of appeal to me. It weaves Native American culture with a more traditional family narrative all set in a post Civil War world to create something unique and new. Based on that promise, I was eager to read this and see how it all worked together. I haven’t read a lot of books set on the frontier or with Native A This book intrigued me for one reason—it sounded different. This is an ‘Own Voices’ book so I loved that it would be more about people on the fringes and as a historian this book held a lot of appeal to me. It weaves Native American culture with a more traditional family narrative all set in a post Civil War world to create something unique and new. Based on that promise, I was eager to read this and see how it all worked together. I haven’t read a lot of books set on the frontier or with Native American culture mixed in, so something like this book appealed to my curious side. Not to mention this cover is beautiful and eye catching so I didn’t want to miss out on it! It also helps that the author was a finalist for the Pulizter Prize which says to me that it would be a well written book. This book had a lot going on. It was dense and tedious at times. There were a number of characters to keep track of so that was a bit of a distraction for me and it started a little on the slow side. I felt like I was so worried about who was related to who for the first third of the book until it finally became familiar. I have seen a few others comment on the same issue and I will admit, it was a struggle at first. But eventually the characters became familiar and the list of how they are related helped a lot, and then the story started picking up and eventually I became engrossed in everything that was going on. I loved the backdrop of a post Civil War era. As I am sure many of you know, I am a huge Civil War buff, but mostly as it pertains to the South and nursing. I have done some research on frontier America but my research into Indian culture is extremely limited, so with this book I found something new and fresh to relish in during one of my favorite eras of American History. This isn’t a book that you want to rush through. I did aggressively read this one admittedly, but mostly because I was eager to make headway with it. I thought the research the author poured into this book was commendable and did the time period, culture, and character justice. I especially loved Check, I thought she was an interesting character, she was strong and independent in a time when women had to rely on their man, she didn’t and I found her character fresh and invigorating. However, there was just so much going on for me that I periodically stalled in my reading efforts. I think it would have helped if all of the plot points to characters ended up connecting some how but sometimes it just didn’t have any bearing on the overall narrative. In the end I went with 3 stars for this one. It was good and definitely worth a read especially if you are looking for an Own Voices type of book, but just be prepared that there is a lot going on in this one. Se my full review here

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julia Simpson-Urrutia

    Check Singer is a character who grows on you, getting right under your skin. Her husband is very ill and she has children ranging from school age to grown. She worries and manages all of them as she does her farm and the people working it. Puny works for her and has got himself in a heap of woman trouble. I love the women in his life, especially Ezell. She has a heart of gold! Both she and Check (Cherokee) are strong, practical women with a sense of obligation to help other people and care for t Check Singer is a character who grows on you, getting right under your skin. Her husband is very ill and she has children ranging from school age to grown. She worries and manages all of them as she does her farm and the people working it. Puny works for her and has got himself in a heap of woman trouble. I love the women in his life, especially Ezell. She has a heart of gold! Both she and Check (Cherokee) are strong, practical women with a sense of obligation to help other people and care for them. The story is fascinating in the disclosures about the manner in which the Cherokee people have acted as a glue and a bridge between the white, native and African American cultures in the USA. I can see why this is an award-winning author: Verble engages readers with problems we can relate to, whether we are women with grown children or young men who have suffered a disgrace. There are times when the story reminds me of the style of William Faulkner. Check is a survivor of her era and culture, and we in our era and culture will find much to relate to. I believe Verble will gain a truly wide audience. Thank you, #HoughtonMifflin Harcourt and #MargaretVerble! I am halfway through and thoroughly enjoying this book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Judy

    There are a TON of characters in this story. At the very beginning of the book, you are given a list of all the characters and how they are connected (if they are connected) and I would recommend keeping those pages (yes, there are pages dedicated to these descriptions) handy for the first 25% of the book. They come at ya fast and furious. Once I had them figured out, for the most part, the story flowed much smoother. Overall, Cherokee America was a wonderfully heartbreaking and thought provokin There are a TON of characters in this story. At the very beginning of the book, you are given a list of all the characters and how they are connected (if they are connected) and I would recommend keeping those pages (yes, there are pages dedicated to these descriptions) handy for the first 25% of the book. They come at ya fast and furious. Once I had them figured out, for the most part, the story flowed much smoother. Overall, Cherokee America was a wonderfully heartbreaking and thought provoking story about the complicated and often intertwined lives of Native Americans following the Trail of Tears and the Civil War. While the story is a historical fiction read, many of the characters were based on real people - both Native American and White. I found myself a little shocked at the added pressures African Americans living in the Indian Nation were facing as well. This is something I would absolutely love to see on the big screen, despite many parts being very hard to watch. Glad I picked it up, and I would recommend fans of historical fiction pick it up as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    *Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review!* I was interested in reading this because of my Cherokee heritage, and even reading just 10% into the book, I learned a lot. However, this book is dense and I'm tabling it (for now) until I can get it on audiobook.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    A few years after the end of the American civil war, with the issue of the settlement of American natives largely in the past, the Cherokee, in their own semi-autonomous region, are trying to live in the only way that the government has left them: like the whites. Seemingly this is what happens, they live as peasants, have adopted Christianity, speak English and have the same dreams and the same aspirations as all the other citizens of the United States. Behind this picture, however, things are A few years after the end of the American civil war, with the issue of the settlement of American natives largely in the past, the Cherokee, in their own semi-autonomous region, are trying to live in the only way that the government has left them: like the whites. Seemingly this is what happens, they live as peasants, have adopted Christianity, speak English and have the same dreams and the same aspirations as all the other citizens of the United States. Behind this picture, however, things are quite different, as many costumes of the past are still part of their everyday life, while the bitter memories of the oppression they have suffered in previous years and their common problems make their tribal consciousness to be particularly strong, which unites them and makes them unwilling to let strangers mingle in their affairs. A series of small and big, serious and less serious events are the occasion to confirm these ties, with their jointly treating of these events, in their own way, under the guidance of the older ones to show that despite the disappearance of their traditional way of life, despite the attempts of total assimilation and their own compromises in the heart remained Cherokee. The Pulitzer Prize candidate for her previous book author, with her somewhat raw - and sometimes very raw - and restrained writing describes us all this, in a way that looks subdued, and in some readers it may even look cold but hides much more "colouring "discreetly in a beautiful way the most intense moments. So we quietly watch the lives of the protagonists of this story, with their simple occupations interrupted only when something unusual happens that they quickly forget it to return to them. Of these protagonists, the main heroine of the book that has the most important role in this story, a woman who, by her power and intelligence, faces the sufferings of life, stands beside her loved ones and becomes the support of the community, a characteristic model of the most worthy of women. Of course, as a background, there are always the tragic events of the history of the violent treatment of the American natives, but this belong to the past that they think they should remember, but they should not let it determine their future. That's why instead of scraping the old wounds they find the power to try to create something better under the difficult conditions of the violent American frontier. This image given by the author I especially appreciated in this book. Λίγα χρόνια μετά το τέλος του αμερικανικού εμφυλίου πολέμου, με το θέμα της τακτοποίησης των Αμερικανών ιθαγενών να αποτελεί σε μεγάλο βαθμό παρελθόν, οι Cherokee, στη δική τους ημιαυτόνομη περιοχή, προσπαθούν να ζήσει με τον μοναδικό τρόπο που τους έχει αφήσει η κυβέρνηση: όπως ακριβώς οι λευκοί. Φαινομενικά αυτό ακριβώς γίνεται, ζούνε ως αγρότες, έχουν ασπαστεί το χριστιανισμό, μιλάνε αγγλικά και έχουν τα ίδια όνειρα και τις ίδιες επιδιώξεις με όλους τους υπόλοιπους πολίτες των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών. Πίσω από αυτήν την εικόνα, όμως, τα πράγματα είναι αρκετά διαφορετικά καθώς πολλές συνήθειες του παρελθόντος εξακολουθούν να είναι μέρος της καθημερινότητάς τους, την ώρα που οι πικρές αναμνήσεις από την καταπίεση που υπέστησαν τα προηγούμενα χρόνια και τα κοινά προβλήματα τους κάνουν την φυλετική συνείδηση τους να είναι ιδιαίτερα ισχυρή, κάτι που τους ενώνει και τους κάνει να μην επιθυμούν την ανάμιξη ξένων στις υποθέσεις τους. Μία σειρά από μικρά και μεγάλα, σοβαρά και λιγότερο σοβαρά γεγονότα γίνονται η αφορμή για να επιβεβαιωθούν αυτοί οι δεσμοί, με την από κοινού αντιμετώπιση τους, με τον δικό τους τρόπο, κάτω από την καθοδήγηση των μεγαλυτέρων να δείχνει ότι παρά την εξαφάνιση του παραδοσιακού τρόπου ζωής τους, παρόλες τις προσπάθειες ολοκληρωτικής αφομοίωσης αλλά και τους δικούς τους συμβιβασμούς στην καρδιά παρέμειναν Τσερόκι. Η υποψήφια για Πούλιτζερ για το προηγούμενο βιβλίο της συγγραφέας με την κάπως ωμή - ως πολύ ωμή - και συγκρατημένη γραφή της μας περιγράφει όλα αυτά, με έναν τρόπο που μοιάζει υποτονικός και σε κάποιους αναγνώστες ίσως φανεί ακόμα και ψυχρός αλλά κρύβει πολύ περισσότερα πράγματα, "χρωματίζοντας" διακριτικά με ωραίο τρόπο τις πιο έντονες στιγμές. Έτσι ήσυχα παρακολουθούμε τη ζωή των πρωταγωνιστών αυτής της ιστορίας, με τις απλές ασχολίες τους που διακόπτονται μόνο όταν συμβαίνει κάτι ασυνήθιστο που γρήγορα το ξεχνάνε για να επιστρέψουν σε αυτές. Από αυτούς τους πρωταγωνιστές ιδιαίτερο ενδιαφέρον έχει η βασική ηρωίδα του βιβλίου που έχει τον σημαντικότερο ρόλο σε αυτήν την ιστορία, μία γυναίκα που με τη δύναμη και την εξυπνάδα της αντιμετωπίζει τα βάσανα της ζωής, στέκεται δίπλα στους αγαπημένους της και γίνεται το στήριγμα της κοινότητας, ένα χαρακτηριστικό υπόδειγμα των πιο αξιών γυναικών. Φυσικά ως φόντο υπάρχουν πάντα τα τραγικά γεγονότα της ιστορίας της βίαιης αντιμετώπισης των Αμερικανών ιθαγενών αλλά αυτά ανήκουν στο παρελθόν που πιστεύουν ότι πρέπει να το θυμούνται αλλά ότι δεν πρέπει να το αφήνουν να καθορίσει το μέλλον τους. Για αυτό αντί να σκαλίζουν συνέχεια τις παλιές πληγές βρίσκουν τη δύναμη να προσπαθήσουν να δημιουργήσουν κάτι καλύτερο κάτω από τις δύσκολες συνθήκες της βίαιης αμερικανικής μεθορίου. Αυτήν την εικόνα που μας δίνει η συγγραφέας εκτίμησα ιδιαίτερα σε αυτό το βιβλίο.

  10. 4 out of 5

    JoBeth

    Verble is a remarkable storyteller. Her tales weave a gossamer web - shimmering and stronger than it might appear - of community, kin, Cherokee Nation-US tensions in 1875, and Black/White/Native relationships before prejudices and power locked hierarchies irrevocably in place. It was particularly interesting to me because my dad's family basically stole the land in the Oklahoma Land Rush near Talequah where the story is set. Strong and decent characters, humor, Cherokee dialogue patterns, snakes Verble is a remarkable storyteller. Her tales weave a gossamer web - shimmering and stronger than it might appear - of community, kin, Cherokee Nation-US tensions in 1875, and Black/White/Native relationships before prejudices and power locked hierarchies irrevocably in place. It was particularly interesting to me because my dad's family basically stole the land in the Oklahoma Land Rush near Talequah where the story is set. Strong and decent characters, humor, Cherokee dialogue patterns, snakes, romance, disgrace, and acknowledgment of usually-politely-ignored bodily functions make this a lively read. I read Cherokee America after Maud’s Line, which was a Pulitzer finalist, and loved them both. I would suggest reading this first, though there is only minor overlap in characters, to help with the family and historical chronology.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    I didn’t realize when I began reading this book that Cherokee America was a woman’s name. Called Check for short, Cherokee America is the matriarch of a prosperous family living in the Cherokee Nation during the 1870’s. Check’s husband is a white man who is on his death bed at the start of the novel. With a family of five boys and a potato farm to run, Check has her hands full as she tries to care for her husband in his final days. It is during this time that some pivotal events occur in the lives I didn’t realize when I began reading this book that Cherokee America was a woman’s name. Called Check for short, Cherokee America is the matriarch of a prosperous family living in the Cherokee Nation during the 1870’s. Check’s husband is a white man who is on his death bed at the start of the novel. With a family of five boys and a potato farm to run, Check has her hands full as she tries to care for her husband in his final days. It is during this time that some pivotal events occur in the lives of her boys and some of her closest neighbors. As Check grieves for her husband, she is distracted by the shooting involving one of her sons, the disappearance of a young neighbor girl and then the murder of a member of the Cherokee Nation. While the story had some terrible events, I found the writing to have a sort of slap-stick humor at times. The characters were amusing and different. Also fascinating was the racial pecking order in the Indian Territory. Not too many years had passed since the Civil War and blacks who had been slaves were still at the bottom of the pecking order. Because of the crimes in the territory, federal Marshalls were sent in to investigate. This was counter-productive to the Indians and threatened previous treaties with the white man. The Indians worked together to seek their own justice, while satisfying the goals of the federal Marshalls. Readers who like historical fiction, westerns and Native American culture will enjoy this book. Sensitive readers should know there is no graphic violence, but there are some incidents involving the young men and their overactive libidos. Many thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    DNF I kept trying to get through an arc of this and it just really wasn't clicking for me and then I remembered that I had struggled with her previous book Maud's Line and really only finished it because of book club, and I had no social pressure to finish this one, so I'm not. DOBBY IS A FREE ELF. Fans of gritty historical epics or whatever will probably like this, and it's always great to have more #OwnVoices books about Native Americans, especially when a lot of other American historical fictio DNF I kept trying to get through an arc of this and it just really wasn't clicking for me and then I remembered that I had struggled with her previous book Maud's Line and really only finished it because of book club, and I had no social pressure to finish this one, so I'm not. DOBBY IS A FREE ELF. Fans of gritty historical epics or whatever will probably like this, and it's always great to have more #OwnVoices books about Native Americans, especially when a lot of other American historical fiction has uhh problematic portrayals of Native Americans. But it's just not for me!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Waller

    I heard about this book on NPR and looked forward to reading it. The descriptions were authentic and conveyed a strong sense of place. But it was not plot driven, and I struggled to get interested in it. There were way WAY too many descriptions of men masturbating. I found myself turning the page whenever a man reached for his belt. Maybe that's why I couldn't follow the plot - I kept skipping chunks of it! It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but I was unable to appreciate it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Zama

    Cherokee America, by Cherokee citizen Margaret Verble, is a Western at heart… but a kind of Western you’ve never read before. All the elements are there: cowboys and Indians, outlaws, the remembrance (and aftermath) of war, gold hiding and searching, sheriffs, farmers, and a close community in a wide open prairie. The plot also revolves around familiar themes (at least on the surface): revenge and the hunt for a hidden stash of gold. Everything that you would expect from a good Western novel is t Cherokee America, by Cherokee citizen Margaret Verble, is a Western at heart… but a kind of Western you’ve never read before. All the elements are there: cowboys and Indians, outlaws, the remembrance (and aftermath) of war, gold hiding and searching, sheriffs, farmers, and a close community in a wide open prairie. The plot also revolves around familiar themes (at least on the surface): revenge and the hunt for a hidden stash of gold. Everything that you would expect from a good Western novel is there, but the perspective of the story makes this novel unique. Cherokee America is set in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma when that nation was still independent from the United State and the rule of the land derived from traditional Cherokee culture. Here, women have they place and social role, very different and more free than it was in larger America society (Cherokee America – Check – is one of the main characters in the novel… though in spite of the novel being called after her, I’d hesitate to call her ‘the protagonist’ because this is truly a choral novel at heart). Here people are all equal and judged by what they contribute to the community, rather than by their gender or race. The multi-culturality of the setting is one of the things I enjoyed the most. The diversity of this rather small community gives richness to the story and the characters, and suggests how this is true in life also. I loved seeing how characters from different cultures relate to each other in a way that underlines their identity, but also showcases the attitude of reaching out, an attitude that often turns into respect and even friendship. The novel is split into two quite different halves. The first part revolved around Check’s husband sickness and eventual death. It’s a very intimate, ponderous part, heavy with a sense of loss and sorrow, and the way it is written and structure seems to call the reader for a slower partecipation, an invitation to take their time and get to know this place and those characters. Everything is designed to take the rhythm down, including the sentence structure, to mark a place and time where rhythms were widely different from ours. The peak of this first half is Andrew’s funeral, where all the community gathers. The sense of a closely knitted community then carries over into the second part of the novel, where only working together, and offering rather than taking, makes the outcome possible. The second part of the novel has a clipper pace and a more adventurous focus, as a girl goes missing and the community goes out in search of her. There’s a murder too, there’s revenge, difficult diplomatic relations, clever and unexpected solutions. It’s a very complex story, not just for the crowded cast of characters and their arcs, but also for the themes weaving onto each other. But it is also a very satisfying story, one that will open your eyes on a sleeve of history that is seldom addressed. And on the matters of life, which is what all good stories are about.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy

    Cherokee America is the name she was given at birth but she is known to family and friends as Check. This is her story. It is 1875 in Cherokee Nation West (now Oklahoma) and Check is about to become a widow. She had married a white man and they raised five sons together after their first baby, a daughter, died. Now the two oldest boys are in their late teens and are considered men. Of the three younger boys, the youngest is a two-year-old toddler. Check and her husband are successful and wealthy Cherokee America is the name she was given at birth but she is known to family and friends as Check. This is her story. It is 1875 in Cherokee Nation West (now Oklahoma) and Check is about to become a widow. She had married a white man and they raised five sons together after their first baby, a daughter, died. Now the two oldest boys are in their late teens and are considered men. Of the three younger boys, the youngest is a two-year-old toddler. Check and her husband are successful and wealthy potato farmers but now her husband is dying from a disease that is never explicitly named but seems to be stomach cancer. Check's time is spent mostly caring for him as the two older boys must take increased responsibility for the farm. In addition to the family, a black couple who are the family cook and handyman live as part of the household and are treated as part of the family. Besides these characters, there is a mind-boggling number of others that we must get to know and keep all the relationships in mind in order to follow the story. It is a story that includes full-blooded Cherokees, half-bloods, blacks, and whites. Part of the story is how all of these mixed races live together in the community and how the various relationships play out and are informed by the racial makeup. One of the things that I really liked about the book was its exploration of these relationships. Another thing that I especially liked was the fact that the author wove in so much of Cherokee history and culture into the narrative. The narrative contains multiple plotlines which make it a challenge to summarize. There are murder and mayhem and missing people, including a child's disappearance which turns the community upside down, and there are heroics and selfishness, humiliation and acts of kindness. Through it all, the plethora of characters makes it sometimes hard to follow. But there is also simply the day-to-day happenings of life on the farm. All in all, it's a lot to take in, but mastering the cast of characters and their relationships makes it all a bit easier. This is a sprawling tale of complex familial relationships and alliances and diverse cultures and through it all our guide is Check. We experience things through her eyes. She is a vivid and sympathetic character and we learn in the author's afterword that she is based on a real historical figure, as are a few of the other characters. I had not read Margaret Verble before but I am impressed with her writing. This was a story that could have veered out of control, but Verble kept to her narrative and told a complicated tale in an understandable and relatable way. One of her previous books,Maud's Line, was a contender for the Pulitzer Prize. I can easily see this one following in those footsteps.

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Hatley

    I love this book. There are a number of reasons for that, but foremost amongst them is the fact that in my opinion it is just a good book. I enjoyed the plot, the characters and the view of the lives of the Cherokee in Indian Territory. I can recommend it highly.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Lynx

    Too strange

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cleokatra

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. That's disappointing, but I'm glad I read it and I would read more by this author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    CoffeeandInk

    DNF. Too many characters to follow, not enough of Check Singer or Cherokee culture, for me anyway. Well written, nicely historically gritty, but I expected something different and it just didn't catch for me. :(

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    more on www.amysbooketlist.blogspot.com When I first got this book, I was really excited. I wanted to love it, but the farther I got into the book, my excitement faded. In saying that, this book wasn't terrible, it just wasn't fabulous, for me. Let's start with what I really loved. I really enjoyed the descriptions in this book. Margaret Verble built such a vibrant world that I my lack of familiarity with Native American history didn't feel insurmountable. I felt like I knew this world, could und more on www.amysbooketlist.blogspot.com When I first got this book, I was really excited. I wanted to love it, but the farther I got into the book, my excitement faded. In saying that, this book wasn't terrible, it just wasn't fabulous, for me. Let's start with what I really loved. I really enjoyed the descriptions in this book. Margaret Verble built such a vibrant world that I my lack of familiarity with Native American history didn't feel insurmountable. I felt like I knew this world, could understand it, and really enjoy this story, simply because the author was so skilled at describing and weaving the settings and emotions. I also LOVED Check. She had so much intelligence, strength, and determination. She was the epitome of life goals. I can only hope to have half of her courage during life's challenges. Her story was beautiful, tragic, and inspiring. What I didn't like were the other characters. Honestly, there were just far too many of them for me. I couldn't get invested in anyone other than Check, because I never got a sense of who they were and what their story was. I don't know if this would be a problem for everyone, but numerous storylines with even more characters, tends to confuse me. I lose focus and don't feel invested in any one person or plot. As with most entertainment, this is totally subjective, so this may not be the problem for others that it was for me. So, this book took me a little longer than normal and I needed a break to read it. I felt compelled to continue this book because it feels like a story that I needed to hear. Sometimes books can give you a completely different perspective on life, and really make you consider a time and place you've never given much thought to. This book really did that for me. Even though it wasn't my favorite book ever, I am really glad to have read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren A.

    I wanted to like this book, I really did and I appreciate the complexity of Check's character as well as the use of the Cherokee written language throughout the text without English translation. But...I just couldn't figure out what this story was about. Plots started then were lost to new plots, after hundred or so pages I just went along for the ride and rolled with it. The ending was fine, but not satisfying because the whole book before that wasn't very satisfying. I enjoyed the real history I wanted to like this book, I really did and I appreciate the complexity of Check's character as well as the use of the Cherokee written language throughout the text without English translation. But...I just couldn't figure out what this story was about. Plots started then were lost to new plots, after hundred or so pages I just went along for the ride and rolled with it. The ending was fine, but not satisfying because the whole book before that wasn't very satisfying. I enjoyed the real history between the U.S. Army and the Cherokee Nation that was sprinkled in the background of the main characters and I wanted more of that! But instead it was a lot of following Check around as she talked with people and did chores. Don't get me wrong I liked the characters well enough, it just didn't have a strong enough story behind it to really hold things up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    I received a copy to review from NetGalley. I liked this book (the 2.5 to 3 range) and enjoyed learning a little bit about Cherokee Nation West. The tagline of "A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a preacher have all gone missing." is very intriguing but misleading. They have not gone missing nor are they all linked. This is a novel that wants to be a family epic like The Son by Philipp Meyer but the novel is a little disjointed. I think it feels this way because th I received a copy to review from NetGalley. I liked this book (the 2.5 to 3 range) and enjoyed learning a little bit about Cherokee Nation West. The tagline of "A baby, a black hired hand, a bay horse, a gun, a gold stash, and a preacher have all gone missing." is very intriguing but misleading. They have not gone missing nor are they all linked. This is a novel that wants to be a family epic like The Son by Philipp Meyer but the novel is a little disjointed. I think it feels this way because there are way too many characters and sometimes it is hard to keep track of who each character is. I know from the Author's note that these are based on real people but some more combining of characters might have made the story easier to track. I did like Check and Ezell. They are strong female characters that love the men in their live but do not rely on them. Check runs her farm and household with the expectation of being obeyed and without the men saying that she is a woman and these matters do not concern her. That being said the book is very male dominated and some of those characters are a little superfluous. I always try to think about the type of reader I would recommend each book to and I am not sure that I know who that is for this novel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris Thompson

    Margaret Verble brings to life a Cherokee community during a not-often told piece of post-Civil War history. The story takes place in Oklahoma before it was a state, when the Cherokee in the area are recovering from the Civil War and enjoying the autonomy they know will end when the United States inevitably breaks its treaty and takes the land from them. Cherokee America follows three families and how they survive, thrive, and deal with mishaps. The character list is large, but Verble helpfully Margaret Verble brings to life a Cherokee community during a not-often told piece of post-Civil War history. The story takes place in Oklahoma before it was a state, when the Cherokee in the area are recovering from the Civil War and enjoying the autonomy they know will end when the United States inevitably breaks its treaty and takes the land from them. Cherokee America follows three families and how they survive, thrive, and deal with mishaps. The character list is large, but Verble helpfully provides a character list at the start of the book. This, along with Verble's short chapters, helps the reader grow accustomed to who is who in a relatively short span. Verble jumps from person to person and back again so each character remains fresh in our minds. It would be useless to list all major characters here, but the main character is Check Singer, married to a white abolitionist named Andrew and raising four boys. Her closest neighbor is Sanders Cordery, who has two wives, one he escapes to when things get rough at home. Check's sister, Alabama, is married to Dennis Bushyhead, someone striving to elevate his position in the Cherokee government. Also important are the Singers' black help, Puny and Ezell. Puny and Ezell feel much more welcome among the Cherokee than among the whites that formerly enslaved their people. There are some whites who play a role, particularly Nash Taylor, a store owner in town, whose daughter, Florence, is smitten with Check's oldest son. Nash relishes the idea of his daughter marrying such an influential Cherokee family, but Check is much more ambivalent about the idea. Verble doesn't follow a standard plot structure, and it would be difficult to explain what the "plot" might be. The book merely follows the lives of its characters and watches this life play out, whether it be the Singer family preparing for the death of Andrew due to illness, or Puny engaging in dangerous extramarital activities, or some random tragic event that is just a part of life. Many of these small plots become intertwined within the narrative of other characters, and we see a collective effort to mitigate it, rather than a reliance on one heroic individual to solve all of the community's ills. Cherokee America provides some insight into the culture and governance of the Cherokee in their territory. The seemingly merciless way justice is dealt seems shocking, but it avoids the system of bureaucracy found in American law in a way that does make it somewhat enticing. And the characters are all hardened to the harshness of life, or at least they soon will be. Perhaps most surprising is the way Verble dives into sexuality, especially the sexuality of young men - particularly Check's two oldest, Connell and Hugh. There's an honesty to Verble's portrayal of Connell's fascination with sex and his constant need to masturbate due to being aroused so often. Cherokee custom forbids Connell from having sex out of wedlock (though this doesn't stop Hugh), which frustrates him as he so strongly desires sex with Florence. I'm not joking when I say that much of the focus when Verble follows Connell is on his penis and its frequent engorgement. It's almost an exaggeration, but in reality it is just a topic so rarely brought up in public that it's surprising to find a female writer, of all people, writing about it. In the end, the book's strengths - it's ability to keep us in the loop about its huge cast of characters - becomes a detriment when it begins to drag on some of the more suspenseful moments of the book. In fact, the suspense is cut short because of the huge cast of characters. The switch between different characters adds some redundancy, and more so, it causes moments that should be more suspenseful to end much too soon because they are resolved too quickly. There are some moments, such as a disappearance and several murders, where Verble opts for the less suspenseful route, where she could have added some more interest and variety to her story. All in all this is a strong story and an important piece of historical fiction, but just not one for the impatient.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The cover art for Cherokee America drew me in before I picked up the book. A lone woman on the prairie, with the wind tumbling through her shawl. It evoked that same sense of loneliness and longing as Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World. I wanted to know this woman's story, and after reading the synopsis was hooked.  Cherokee America opens in a late 1800's small town, as Check (Aunt Check to most folks) runs errands at the local general store. This simple setting, the hub center of the tow The cover art for Cherokee America drew me in before I picked up the book. A lone woman on the prairie, with the wind tumbling through her shawl. It evoked that same sense of loneliness and longing as Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World. I wanted to know this woman's story, and after reading the synopsis was hooked.  Cherokee America opens in a late 1800's small town, as Check (Aunt Check to most folks) runs errands at the local general store. This simple setting, the hub center of the town, serves as a surprisingly perfect opening. Not only do we get a solid sense of Check's no-nonsense way of viewing her neighbors and townsfolk, but also her compassion for the downtrodden. I felt like I was there with Check as she rescues a dying infant's life. This is the Cherokee Nation after the Civil War, after the land was ravaged for supplies from the armies, and the people are still attempting to cover the scars, both over the land and within themselves. There are people like Sanders, who walked the Trail of Tears and came out of the War with next to nothing, besides two wives named Nancy. There's Puny, a former slave whose grief turns into a desperate quest for gold and a way to change his circumstances. And Check, who misses her Tennessee home, who is raising her children with a dying husband waiting at home. They keep to the Bible, while not wholly believing in or trusting all it represents. Claiming the whites' religion hasn't saved them from walking the trail to this new land, and it can't save Check's abolitionist husband an early grave. Still, Check keeps her farm running and family together as best she can.  Rather than split into chapters, the book is divided by titled scenes, interconnecting the story in a refreshing and fluid way. While usually told from Check's perspective, we also see through the eyes of secondary and even minor characters like Check's sons, Sanders and the two orphaned boys. As the story unfolds, pieces of a larger puzzle come together in an exciting way. The author, a member of the Cherokee Nation herself, uses the Cherokee alphabet and language through the book, which lends another layer of immersion to Verble's story. I loved learning about Cherokee culture, alongside the darker aspects on both sides of the Civil War and all that came after.  Big events often have small beginnings. In the case of Cherokee America, a baby's death drives a man to gold, a fever that quickly encompasses the whole town. Check and her family learns they are some of only a few who weren't aware of the Wartime legend. And like it or not, the Singers are quickly embroiled in the inevitable conflict that comes after. Check struck me from the moment I first met her and I've found her character and spirit have lingered with me after. Great heroes aren't always the most obvious, and Check's determination, her love for her family and her people no matter their skin color or creed is what truly saves the day in the end. An expertly crafted picture into the heart of America after the Civil War, Verble's historical drama is sure to capture readers to favor strong characters and compelling plots. Stunning and heartrending in turn, this is a story you won't want to miss. **I was provided with a copy of Cherokee America by the author and this is my voluntary and honest review.**

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I first heard about this book while listening to “Fresh Air” on NPR. They were interviewing the author and I found it so fascinating I knew I had to pick up the book. “Cherokee America” is a novel of historical fiction based loosely on the real life of a woman named Cherokee America Rogers. The story is set in what was then called Indian Territory, 1875, in Oklahoma, and reveals what life was like for people of all races, bloodlines, mixed races, class, and gender in the post-Civil War era on tr I first heard about this book while listening to “Fresh Air” on NPR. They were interviewing the author and I found it so fascinating I knew I had to pick up the book. “Cherokee America” is a novel of historical fiction based loosely on the real life of a woman named Cherokee America Rogers. The story is set in what was then called Indian Territory, 1875, in Oklahoma, and reveals what life was like for people of all races, bloodlines, mixed races, class, and gender in the post-Civil War era on tribal land. There are some truly lovable characters in this novel, even if their behavior might be unbecoming, and I found myself rooting for them to come out on top. Cherokee America, “Check” or “Aunt Check” as she was called, is a hard woman with grit, sensibility, and power. She is as tough to love as the love she gives, but I felt a fierce loyalty to her as I read the book, and believe she commanded that in her real life as well. Her character was beautifully portrayed. Ezell is her cook, Puny is her husband. I loved both of these characters as well. There were many that I was fond of, but Check and Ezell were my favorites. The book starts out with an illegitimate baby, a secret stash of gold that everyone is looking for, several murders, the disappearance of a child, secret lovers, and a plot by a new judge to bring law to the lawless tribal lands. It was well written and kept pulling me back in to see just where in the world the story was going. It was beautifully descriptive and the language held me captive. I didn’t have trouble keeping up with the characters as others have complained about. I didn’t keep track of who was related to whom except Check, Alabama, and Granny, then each family and their own children. Passing up all the extraneous content doesn’t leave you missing anything important. I took off one star because of the sheer amount of jerking off and relieving themselves in this book! I’m not sure what the author’s fascination is with young men ejaculating is, but it was done alone, almost alone, thought he was alone, alone with a horse, with girls, in a corner in a bawdy house surrounded by all the other patrons, and on and on and on! It almost warrants a new genre of erotic historical fiction in a few places. ;) Those inabilities to keep their beast in their pants does contribute to the plot in a few places, though. Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I will be recommending to others who enjoy Old West historical fiction, Native American history, stories of hard scrabble life on the prairie, and anyone looking for something a little different to break them out of a rut.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Singh

    "She'd seen too much stealing, war, and death to believe in a just universe or a loving god. However, she was a great believer in humans maintaining harmony." (325) "'Puny tower won't tell me nothing. Won't tell me what happen to those killers. Wont' tell me what happen down there at that bawdy house.' She turned around. 'Whatever that was, ya might as well go on and hold yer head up. None of us gets out without something bad happening. Think on Lizzie and that baby. Ya think I enjoyed that much? "She'd seen too much stealing, war, and death to believe in a just universe or a loving god. However, she was a great believer in humans maintaining harmony." (325) "'Puny tower won't tell me nothing. Won't tell me what happen to those killers. Wont' tell me what happen down there at that bawdy house.' She turned around. 'Whatever that was, ya might as well go on and hold yer head up. None of us gets out without something bad happening. Think on Lizzie and that baby. Ya think I enjoyed that much?' Hugh brushed his hair back with his hand. 'I imagine not. You aren't guilty, though. I am.' Ezell cut a slice, slid it onto a plate, and held it out. It was against the plan, but she felt mercy and would burn his fish anyway. 'Here. There's redemption for us all. That's what the Lord says. Eat up.' (333) "Check knew full well what whites were like. But she and Andrew had raised their boys without talk of broken treaties or hatefulness towards Indians. They hadn't completely agreed on the importance of treaties. Or on what breaking them revealed about whites. And she'd had reservations about that decision. But they had agreed they wanted their children to grown up grateful, rather than feeling like victims. And while they lived in Ohio, their neighbors hadn't been concerned with Indians; wouldn't have recognized one not dressed in feathers and war paint. There, being southern was the burden. But even in Tennessee, they'd raised their boys as whites. She hadn't prepared them to live as Indians. She had given them only stories. Check felt like a fool." (358) "'But we live in difficult times. At some point, we've got to stop teaching out children to kill.'" (363) "'Hugh, we live in a world not of our making. We do the best we can.'" (373)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    I am between a 3 and a 4 but will give it a four to the depth of the characters and the knowledge I gained of the Cherokee Nation. Aside from there being many characters to keep track of (which caused me now and then to think, who is this character, trying to place him/her in context), my criticism of this book is the prolonged illness and death of Andrew (Page 193) and the Singer boys preoccupation with their penises, which added nothing to wealth of the story. I would have liked to perhaps had I am between a 3 and a 4 but will give it a four to the depth of the characters and the knowledge I gained of the Cherokee Nation. Aside from there being many characters to keep track of (which caused me now and then to think, who is this character, trying to place him/her in context), my criticism of this book is the prolonged illness and death of Andrew (Page 193) and the Singer boys preoccupation with their penises, which added nothing to wealth of the story. I would have liked to perhaps had an epilogue to learn more about the Nation's struggle with the US Government beyond the little I read in the Author's note. (I confess, that did cause me to read more about the Nation in Wikipedia). One sentence which helped me understand the plight of these native Americans and all they had withstood and were continuing to fight for, "The US Government had to be kept on the other side of the Arkansas line. Why else had all those people walked so far in Winter? Left their crops, homes and improvements? Left their ancestor's graves? Their Sacred Mountains?" Having said that, I loved Check. She was a powerful woman--head of her large family, on-hands farmer, and a dominant voice in the Nation--who never shirked her responsibilities or weakened in the face of loss. All of the characters are well-drawn and come to life. Verble's writing style is fluid, informative and inspired. I've added "Maud's Line" to my to-read list. One other point, I was a bit put off by the use of the Cherokee language. It is impossible to pronounce or understand, but I suppose added to the authenticity of the novel.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe Stack

    Until the murder in the latter third of this novel, I had a hard time staying with this well-written story that provides a window into the complex culture of post-Civil War Indian Territory. I found the pacing of this character driven story on the slow side. This is a western from the perspective of the residents in the Cherokee Nation. Besides the Cherokee family of Check, who is the story's anchor, there is a fairly large cast of characters who provide multiple story lines for a novel of less Until the murder in the latter third of this novel, I had a hard time staying with this well-written story that provides a window into the complex culture of post-Civil War Indian Territory. I found the pacing of this character driven story on the slow side. This is a western from the perspective of the residents in the Cherokee Nation. Besides the Cherokee family of Check, who is the story's anchor, there is a fairly large cast of characters who provide multiple story lines for a novel of less than 400 pages. "Full bloods," mixed bloods, freedmen, and whites give this story its complexity of race & cultural clashes. For me, the most interesting characters were Puny, one of Check's black hired hands, and Ezell & Lizzie, his wife & mistress. For me, the story kicked into higher gear each time these characters appeared. This is a leisurely paced novel (too leisurely for me) packed with historical and cultural details of Native American life.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elly

    I had high hopes for Cherokee America. A trusted source recommended it and Ron Rash (author of Serena, which I loved) talked it up. The book started with a solid 4/5 stars, but it lost me along the way. There were a bazillion characters, and 90% of them were forgettable. Somehow, there were almost as many plots and subplots as characters. I kept reading thinking the plots would link together and make sense, but they never conjoined and many seemed to get lost and left unresolved. Cherokee Americ I had high hopes for Cherokee America. A trusted source recommended it and Ron Rash (author of Serena, which I loved) talked it up. The book started with a solid 4/5 stars, but it lost me along the way. There were a bazillion characters, and 90% of them were forgettable. Somehow, there were almost as many plots and subplots as characters. I kept reading thinking the plots would link together and make sense, but they never conjoined and many seemed to get lost and left unresolved. Cherokee America was filled with interesting historical tidbits and the writing itself was actually good. However, the book had zero focus. Maybe it would be better as a set of short stories. Or perhaps trimmed of characters and plots to create a narrower focus. As is, though, the book was a big, swirling mess of a disappointment. Read more here: https://bookreviewsbyelly.blogspot.co...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Doria

    An enjoyable and informative work of historical fiction, which offers good insight into the daily life, struggle, humor and intelligence of the people living within the Cherokee Nation during the late 19th century, in the wake the Trail of Tears. Based on what is known about individuals who were Cherokee, mixed blood, African-American and white, the author has constructed a plausible and engaging narrative, covering the events of one particulate summer. The result is a kind of layer-cake view of An enjoyable and informative work of historical fiction, which offers good insight into the daily life, struggle, humor and intelligence of the people living within the Cherokee Nation during the late 19th century, in the wake the Trail of Tears. Based on what is known about individuals who were Cherokee, mixed blood, African-American and white, the author has constructed a plausible and engaging narrative, covering the events of one particulate summer. The result is a kind of layer-cake view of a community, through the lives and doings of individuals. Divided into very short mini-chapters, it is easy to take your time reading the book, slowly digesting and working your way through. A nice way to get to know characters and develop your own sense of what was going on in Cherokee Nation at that time. By the end of the book, I felt like a neighbor, watching and pondering and nodding my head.

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