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Where the Dead Sit Talking

Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah, a 15-year-old Cherokee boy, is placed in foster care with the Troutt family. Literally and figuratively scarred by his unstable upbringing, Sequoyah has spent years mostly keeping to himself, living with his emotions pressed deep below the surface - that is, until he meets the 17-year-old Rosemary, another youth staying with the Troutts.

Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American backgrounds and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah's feelings toward Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both.

©2018 Brandon Hobson (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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Profile Image for Joleen Scott
  • Joleen Scott
  • 01-08-18

Indigeneity fell short

The good parts of this book included the imagery and intensity of tone. However, there were some misrepresentations when coming to the Cherokee elements of this novel. I grew up in a Cherokee community (I am ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ) in Oklahoma, near Cherokee County. One issue I had was saying that Sequoyah means “sparrow.” Tsisquaya (ji-s-qua-ya) means real bird/sparrow, according to traditional Keetoowah-Cherokee author Robert J. Conley. I grew up learning that Sequoyah means “pig foot or pig-like” because he had a limp when he walked. This leads me to another Cherokee issue I had in the first chapter when it says Sequoyah developed the Cherokee language. Sequoyah developed the syllabary/alphabet, not the language. We had language before him. Lastly, the teepee at the end made me a little sad because Cherokees never used teepees.
The forced spirituality felt uncomfortable and awkward, and seemed like it was meant for non-Natives. It felt like this novel wasn’t targeting me as its audience, even with the use of pan-Indian elements (spirit quest & dreamcatchers). It was nice to see N. Scott Momaday mentioned.
One of my worries is that it could perpetuate stereotypes of Natives being drunks/druggies. And I wonder why the author didn’t include ICWA, since it’s a big issue in Indian Country.
Looking past some of the misinformation/representation part of the novel, it’s very interesting and makes the bleak look vivid.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris Morrison
  • 19-03-18

Quite good

Although the book involves Native Americans in rural Oklahoma, this novel could really about anyone, bringing the ideas that everyone has their own story, some more tragic than others, and every person has their own set of problems and desires. There is no person in life who escapes unscathed. Although a little short, it's an excellent and well conceived novel and nicely presented by the reader.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Cristopher
  • 07-03-18

great read. riveting story. the author made me fee

the author made me feel like I was part of the story. very good book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara Koefod
  • 29-11-18

A Slow Flatliner

The summons to note Brandon Hobson as a brilliant writer to watch simply confounds me. I felt as if this coming of age story was flat and meandering, like a slow death. The main characters seemed very one-dimensional: Harold, in his stilted attempts to connect with Sequoyah via his monologue about his disjointed relationship with his own father. Agnes, with her lonely piety and resigned, limp attempts to comfort her foster kids. Rosemary, desperately seeking attention with rebellion, cliched artist's angst and a tough but fragile veneer. The only character with any spiritual depth was George, who struggled with alienation and grief but continued to seek and create solace in a sad world.

I cherish stories, however depressing, if the prose and characters are engaging. I'm questioning my own literary astuteness, because I just don't grasp the greatness of this novel as described by other more bedazzled readers.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Oscar
  • Oscar
  • 03-03-19

Pure Story

Loved this book. It was pure story throughout. Sometimes literary novels get sidetracked with self-absorbed ego driven narration (like Alexie). Not here. We get a novel about a young Cherokee boy navigating the foster care system and struggles with identity around his Native ancestry, but also gender and sexuality. It's a refreshing Native novel that has genuine similarities to Erdrich's focus on story. Hobson doesn't beat you over the head with culture and victimhood. He tells a story about a human being being human. This gives the story a universal appeal. He does great with character development as well as lining out his plot to keep the reader interested. It's somewhat nonlinear, but mostly told in a linear format. The nonlinear aspects are used for foreshadowing the end and helps pull the reader through the plot. It's not Marquezian, but more Munro. Great audio book. The performance by Summerer is okay. Not amazing in any way, but you'll be able to get through the narration. It's worth the buy.