Review by Booklist Review
Hokeah's highly anticipated debut novel tells the story of Ever Geimausaddle, the son of a Cherokee mother and a Kiowa father, as he navigates life across Native lands in Oklahoma. Told through the perspectives of 12 different Native American and Mexican family members, this is a seamlessly woven tale portraying several generations. Each narrator's point of view provides new angles on Ever's life, which is repeatedly marked by violence and instability. As a very young child, Ever witnesses his father's nearly fatal beating by police. Poverty and his mother's job insecurity follow. Alcoholism and domestic abuse are never far removed. But Ever's ancestral heritage surfaces in ways that prove vital to finding his path, as in the Gourd Dances his cirrhotic grandfather shares with him and a healing blanket emblazoned with Bird Clan imagery quilted by his grandmother. Hokeah peppers his quick, punchy prose with untranslated indigenous vocabulary, which invites readers into the storytelling and binds the chapters in a shared vernacular. The result is a profound reflection on the ways familial and cultural trauma can threaten every generation while those very connections can also promise salvation.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican family members of a young man named Ever Geimausaddle tell stories that span from his infancy to his adulthood in this captivating debut. When Ever is six months old, he witnesses his father being nearly beaten to death by police on the way back to Oklahoma from visiting his paternal grandparents in Chihuahua, Mexico. Ever's maternal grandmother, Lena, decides to make a quilt for him to help him heal from the incident, but Lena's schism with her daughter, Turtle, prevents her from ever delivering the gift. Though Ever grows up under a specter of violence, he finds connection to his cultures and the people around him amid the climate of grief, fear, and anger. A chapter narrated by Ever's paternal grandfather, Vincent, in which Vincent observes his grandsons taking part in a gourd dance, perfectly conveys the double-edged sword of the family's heritage: "I was amazed at how quickly they followed in my footsteps. And then it scared me." Throughout, Hokeah succeeds at making each character's voice distinct and without losing a sense of cohesion. With striking insight into human nature and beautiful prose, this heralds an exciting new voice. (July)
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Review by Library Journal Review
DEBUT Hokeah's debut will feel familiar to fans of Louise Erdrich and Tommy Orange, shifting between the perspectives of different characters and jumping around in time to tell a story of the contemporary experiences of Indigenous people, while also taking care to disrupt any reductive notions of homogeneity in this arena. At its core is the birth-to-adulthood story of Ever Guimesaddle, a man of Kiowa, Cherokee, and Mexican descent living in Lawton and Tahlequah, OK. The strength of Hokeah's work--across his entire cast of characters, but particularly with Ever--is his accomplished use of peripheral narration; each chapter features a new narrator, all of whom move through the other chapters as well, which results in a novel that builds in richness and intricacy as its forges ahead. It's an expansive, mutating canvas Hokeah brings to bear, one that continues to grow until the final page, with myths small and large swirling amid familial and cultural histories. Inevitably, there's some variance in quality between chapters, some feeling more like connective tissue than fully substantive in their own right, but Hokeah's skill as a storyteller and eye toward exploring the intersections of various peoples, cultures, and histories cast him as a writer to follow. VERDICT Another noteworthy debut in what feels like an ongoing renaissance of Indigenous peoples' literature, both reflecting this lineage and introducing an exciting, fresh new voice to the choir.--Luke Gorham
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A debut novel, told in a round robin of voices, depicts the complexities of contemporary Indigenous life. As an infant, Ever Geimausaddle accompanies his parents on a road trip from Oklahoma to Mexico for a visit with his paternal grandparents. On the drive home, their car is pulled over and Ever's father is mercilessly beaten by three corrupt policemen looking for a payoff. Ever was "so close to the violence, too close to the rage," opines his Cherokee grandmother, Lena. "Oos-dis weren't supposed to be around such things. They could be witched. Their spirit forever altered. A witching was almost incurable." Has Ever indeed been witched by witnessing this primal act of violence? Ever's mother, Turtle, calls the notion "superstitious mumbo jumbo," yet the question hovers over the troubled protagonist of this immersive novel by a writer of Cherokee, Kiowa, and Mexican descent. Twelve chapters, each narrated by a different member of Ever's expansive clan, form a prismatic portrait of the character as he grows up, makes a bad marriage, serves in the Army, becomes a father, works at a youth shelter, and struggles with his aggressive temperament while attempting to make a life for himself. The narrative technique recalls Rachel Cusk's Outline in that we learn about the protagonist obliquely; as in the novels of Louise Erdrich and Tommy Orange, the chorus of voices--rendered in unadorned vernacular peppered with Indigenous words--evokes a close-knit Native community in all its varied humanity, anchored by tradition while marked by injustices past and present. A final chapter, narrated by Ever himself, offers, if not redemption, then a sense of hope. Simply told and true to life. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.