Crooked hallelujah

Kelli Jo Ford

Book - 2020

Tells the stories of Justine--a mixed-blood Cherokee woman--and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma's Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. However, life in Texas isn't easy, and Reney feels unmoored from her family in Indian Country. Against the vivid backdrop of the Red River, we see their struggle to survive in a world--of unreliable men and near-Biblical natural forces like wildfires and tornadoe...s--intent on stripping away their connections to one another and their very ideas of home.

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Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Historical fiction
Published
New York, NY : Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic 2020.
Edition
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition. First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
vi, 288 pages ; 22 cm
Awards
"Winner of the Plimpton Prize"--Jacket.
ISBN
9780802149121
080214912X
Main Author
Kelli Jo Ford (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Ford, a Plimpton Prize–winning author and member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, tells a blistering Own Voices tale that spans generations. The novel reads like a set of interlinked short stories, yet there is a narrative thread that runs through each of them, connecting the reader to the heart of a family of Cherokee women. At its start, in 1974, 15-year-old Justine is coping with the pressures of her mother Lula's strict Christian church. She wants to reconnect with her father and to live like her friends do. But when Justine becomes pregnant through an act of assault, daughter Reney enters the picture, and the reader follows their journey as Reney grows. The sections cover different decades and are told from different perspectives, leading up to an electrifying conclusion. Ford's lyrical writing emphasizes both the hardships and the deeply connected relationships of the characters. The theme of the weather as villain illustrates the unopposable forces Cherokee women must contend with, including the tyranny of society and of men. A riveting and important read. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In Plimpton Prize–winner Ford's gritty, elegant debut novel in stories, a young Cherokee woman tries to break a generational cycle of broken families while finding strength in an enduring bond with her mother. Ford opens with "Book of the Generations," about Lula, whose husband abandoned her and her child, Justine. Justine, 15, rebels against her mother's conservative Christianity by sneaking out one night to meet a boy. After Justine is raped by the boy, she becomes pregnant with Reney. Justine's love for her daughter is all-encompassing ("I think it makes Mom proud to say I am—and always have been—perfect," Reney later reflects) while Reney grows into a life that feels far from perfect. In "Hybrid Vigor," she ends up working in a Dairy Queen in Bonita, Tex.; grieving several miscarriages; and in a dead-end marriage. When her physically abusive, unemployed husband leaves her pet mule to die, Reney takes it as the last straw. Later, Ford gives Reney opportunities to pursue a healthy relationship, an education, and a stronger understanding of the legacy of her family and heritage. Ford's storytelling is urgent, her characters achingly human and complex, and her language glittering and rugged. This is a stunner. (July) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"It's 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fifteen-year-old Justine grows up in a family of tough, complicated, and loyal women, presided over by her mother, Lula, and Granny. After Justine's father abandoned the family, Lula became a devout member of the Holiness Church-a community that Justine at times finds stifling and terrifying. But she does her best as a devoted daughter, until an act of violence sends her on a different path forever. Crooked Hallelujah tells the stories of Justine-a mixed-blood Cherokee woman-and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma's Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. However, life in Texas isn't easy, and Reney feels unmoored from her family in Indian Country. Against the vivid backdrop of the Red River, we see their struggle to survive in a world-of unreliable men and near-Biblical natural forces like wildfires and tornadoes-intent on stripping away their connections to one another and their very ideas of home. In lush and empathic prose, Kelli Jo Ford depicts what this family of proud, stubborn women sacrifice for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture. This is a big-hearted and ambitious novel-in-stories of the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters by an exquisite and rare new talent"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A first collection by an award-winning Cherokee writer traces four generations of Native American women as they navigate cultural dynamics, religious beliefs, the 1980s oil bust, devastating storms and unreliable men to connect with their ideas about home.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"A book that you want to share with everyone you know and one that you are desperate to keep in your own possession. A masterful debut and a new and thrilling voice for readers across the globe." —Sarah Jessica Parker, on InstagramIt’s 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and fifteen-year-old Justine grows up in a family of tough, complicated, and loyal women presided over by her mother, Lula, and Granny. After Justine’s father abandoned the family, Lula became a devout member of the Holiness Church – a community that Justine at times finds stifling and terrifying. But Justine does her best as a devoted daughter until an act of violence sends her on a different path forever. Crooked Hallelujah tells the stories of Justine—a mixed-blood Cherokee woman— and her daughter, Reney, as they move from Eastern Oklahoma’s Indian Country in the hopes of starting a new, more stable life in Texas amid the oil bust of the 1980s. However, life in Texas isn’t easy, and Reney feels unmoored from her family in Indian Country. Against the vivid backdrop of the Red River, we see their struggle to survive in a world—of unreliable men and near-Biblical natural forces, like wildfires and tornados—intent on stripping away their connections to one another and their very ideas of home.In lush and empathic prose, Kelli Jo Ford depicts what this family of proud, stubborn, Cherokee women sacrifices for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture. This is a big-hearted and ambitious novel of the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters by an exquisite and rare new talent.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The remarkable debut from Plimpton Prize Winner Kelli Jo Ford, Crooked Hallelujah follows four generations of Cherokee women across four decades