A Cherokee family struggles to survive trauma past and present.
Author Brandon Hobson is well versed in tales of tragedy suffered by the Cherokee Nation. His novel Where the Dead Sit Talking — a 2018 National Book Award finalist — was a testament to the hardships faced by Native Americans in the Anglo world. Now, in The Removed, Hobson continues with the themes of Native American culture, substance abuse, displaced children, and the lingering fallout from the Trail of Tears.
The Echota family is no stranger to heartbreak. Fifteen years ago, the police in Quah, Oklahoma, shot and killed Maria and Ernest’s teenage son, Ray-Ray, a deadly mistake that left a hole in their lives. Ray-Ray was a charismatic kid who loved to do funny impersonations and make people laugh. When violence took him away, the family couldn’t fill the huge void caused by his loss.
Now, 31-year-old sister Sonja, directionless, lives each day like a leaf blowing in the wind, dating younger men who can’t fulfil her and looking for something she can’t name. She’s angry and seeks justice. To that end, she has a plan to punish the family of the racist cop who killed her brother.
Edgar, 21, is even more lost than his sister. Living in New Mexico, he’s hooked on meth — despite an intervention — and hasn’t figured a way out of the chaos he’s created. Without a job, money, or his girlfriend, the only thing he has left is the Oxycodone he downs with beer. His soul plunges into the Darkening Land, a place between life and death where everything is grey and ashen, and illness plagues the population.
Read the rest of my review at Washington Independent Review of Books.