It’s been fifteen years since their teenage son Ray-Ray was killed in a police shooting and left an emptiness within the Echota family. Told from multiple POVs, Maria the mother, Sonja the older sister, Edgar the younger brother, and Tsala a Cherokee prophet; this is a story of grief and how it has shaped and consumed a family. Each of these POVs almost feel like separate stories. Tsala, shares with us Cherokee traditions and myths with the added view The Trail of Tears. Edgar has lived his life trying to live up to his brother’s memory. He’s a meth addict and his POV is trippy and slightly detached, as you would expect from an addict. Sonja, has regrets of not being able to protect her younger brother, but she’s stuck in a rut. Maria, Ray Ray’s mother, is a retired social worker who is now struggles with taking care of her aging husband as he battles Alzheimer’s.
Personally I would have preferred the whole book to be from Maria’s perspective. She’s the most likable character within the book and she eludes maternal protection and maturity. She cares for her family, even through her grief, while ensuring the education of them within the Cherokee culture. Her narration has the most direction. The other’s particularly Edgars are more atmospheric, less plot based, and more ambiguous natural. In Edgar’s POV we’re never quite sure if he’s in the ‘real world’ or in a drug induced hazed. I could have done with Sonja’s POV. Her actions and thoughts are heavily influenced by her guilt of not protecting Ray Ray and directors her attentions to others that she see’s Ray Ray in. Tsala, while extremely interesting gives the books more of a mythically feel. I know that it’s suppose to provide contact and historical facts in a poetic fashion, but it was such an abrupt change the first chapter Tsala appears, that it left me a bit confused.
I was so excited to read this book. I’ve really been diving into Native American writings lately and have loved books like Winter Counts , There There, and Only Good Indians. But The Removed just did not do it for me. I was left with so many questions. I’m a very plot driven reader and the lack of a firm goal really distracted me from the story. This is a book for those people who prefer atmospheric reads rather than plot driven reads.
I wanted to like this book but I just found myself frustrated.
The Removed comes out February 2, 2021. Have you read this book? What did you think. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.