Interesting and Unflinching Look at Segregated Society and History

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Rounded to 3.5 stars.

CONTENT WARNING: racism, alcoholism, trauma, death of animals, racist slurs, gore

The premise is such an intriguing one. While I got the idea of what the writer was attempting to accomplish, it didn’t quite come across in the execution of the novel. Unfortunately, the story was bogged down by too many viewpoints and a somewhat clunky storytelling style and a very slow-moving storyline. It’s also highly character-driven, so that it took a really long time to make out the full shape of the plot.

As for the story itself, it addressed some heavy subjects. Racism, classism, the legacy of slavery, segregation, how indigenous people fit into society, and war trauma all play a role in the plot, and I thought they were addressed well. It was hard not to be outraged multiple times throughout the story on behalf of the characters of color and how society treated them.

I liked Two Feathers (a stage name), although I got the sense that there was so much more to her character than what we saw. I would have loved to see her interact with more people in a genuine way, such as with her family. She clearly held back so much of herself with the vast majority of characters in Glendale, which spoke to her lack of trust in white people. But her own history and that of her people was discussed, and it’s totally understandable why she doesn’t trust white people — they’ve never given her any reason to. One of her main struggles is trying to find a place in a world that isn’t designed to make room for indigenous people:

“It boiled down to being herself and also making her way in a world built by whites. It would be difficult to do, but, really, she didn’t have any other options.”

There are elements of historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and even some romance in this story. I liked how they were all intertwined to make an intriguing narrative, even if it was exceptionally slow-moving. All of the different storylines combine towards the end of the book, and I enjoyed seeing it all come together, even if the ending left me a bit unsatisfied and wanting … just more. But perhaps the thing that I liked most about this book was learning more about Cherokee beliefs and how they view the world.