Hobson is a registered Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma citizen. He has a Ph.D. in English with seven years of experience as a social worker for impoverished children, which was the topic of his last novel. In The Removed, he explores this world once more via the memories and agony of the ancestry of a single-family.
You fall upon a book every now and then that seems simply to be from another dimension. Although it takes place in the contemporary day, the story’s origins go all the way back to ancient Greece. The setting might be somewhere genuine, like Oklahoma in this case, but as you keep reading, you become unsure of where it is really coming from. Numinous would be a good term to characterize a novel like Brandon Hobson’s excellent The Removed.
The narrative of the Echota family shares Cherokee myth and history, as well as the family’s struggle to recapture the memory of their teen son, Ray-Ray, who was slain by the police. Each member of the Echota family is working hard to cope with the death of Ray-Ray as they prepare for a family campfire, storytelling, and food preparation as part of a shared ritual of memory building. They go between the spiritual realm of Cherokee mythology and meaning and the wider world. On this road of recurrent sorrow, meditation, and trauma one seeks both the vitality of what was and the justice for what has been taken away from one’s life once again.
Ray-Ray, a 15-year-old black male, was shot and murdered by mall security guards 15 years earlier. Since then, his family continues to be torn between grieving and reminiscing. Ernest, Ray’s father, has Alzheimer’s disease, and he and Maria, his mother, cope with it every day. Sonja and Edgar, their grown children, lead separate lives of seclusion, punctuated by perilous sexual encounters, in the case of Sonja, and experiences of isolation combined with a psychic reconnection to family history in Edgar’s. Because of Edgar’s drug abuse, he’s been forced to abandon his home. He’s now looking for answers about his life and his continued need for narcotics.
The beginning of the yearly Cherokee National Holiday coincides with the death anniversary of Ray-Ray. Every year, the family gathers to build a campfire and confront their thoughts about him at this time. Maria and Ernest want nothing more than to see Edgar again in the actual world, but they’re also hoping Ray-soul Ray’s will reappear as Wyatt, their new foster kid.
As the day of the celebration comes, the family alternates between reality and the voice of the ancestor Tsala, who tells the folks about what exactly became of them, how and why they were removed, and who was responsible for their deportation.
The emotional effect of the Echota’s present-day romance and guardianship decisions grows with each day they mark off till the bonfire, as do the interwoven voices of the living and the dead. Sonja’s relationships become increasingly dangerous as a result of her extramarital encounters. As Wyatt grows older, his relationship with Ray-spirit Ray’s weakens. Along with the other storyline, Edgar’s drug obsession follows a path that might lead to his demise — or his rebirth.
Anybody who wishes to face life’s most painful realities and learn the lessons our ancestors intended for us to learn should read this book. The Removed has a lot to say on the transmission of trauma through generations for those who are interested.
Brandon Hobson already had established a mark for himself owing to his multi-award-winning novel, Where the Dead Sit Talking, and yet again the author has spared no suffering in this beautifully detailed exploration of the Cherokee people along with their historical association with injustice. However, the past of the native population is only a minor part of this work. In The Removed, Hobson cleverly weaves together two distinct stories: the archaic voice of a forgotten ancestor, and the current story of the Echota household, who had gathered to commemorate their son, who was slain by police officers 15 years earlier.
For this family and tribe, the losses are unfathomable, and Hobson takes us into the depths of the soul-shattering grief, lifting the veil of concealment to examine the many ways individuals deal with tragedy. Where catastrophes could have been averted, he doesn’t try to protect the reader by sugar-coating the hard truths of loss. On the contrary, he seemed to want the reader to suffer in sympathy with this family, demonstrating the potency of well-told stories. He encourages us to develop more empathy for others by allowing us to walk about in the skin of another person, see life via their eyes, and feel the pain to such an extent that it shatters us, builds us, and changes us.
The narrative picks up during the Cherokee National Holiday when people are remembering and contemplating. In addition to learning about Cherokee culture, mythology, and heritage, readers will also gain a better understanding of the challenges that many of these families are currently facing in modern-day North America. The interwoven voices in Hobson’s story remind us of the importance of endurance and equality, and this book will leave readers smarter as a result.
Now, while these aspects did not quite leave a bad impression about the book for me, as overall I enjoyed the plot development and writing style (not to mention, of course, the themes), but I did have some initial issues with the characters and their discourse in the plot. Sonja’s lack of feeling as well as her explosive emotions baffled me. I couldn’t figure out if Wyatt was aware of what Ernest and Maria thought of him. I was baffled as to why Maria was so insistent on this idea, or if we were expected to believe she was a decent human being. Even though I was aware of Edgar’s drug usage, I still found it difficult to follow his story.
If you’ve been missing the amazing taste of reading true literature, I highly suggest The Removed book to you! Cherokee mythology, tradition, and mystic realism all come together in a beautiful tango in these claims. You’ve read about a dysfunctional family and the customary Cherokee beliefs that go along with it. The chapters from various family members’ points of view are intriguing and engrossing. When you love one character’s point of view, you can’t help but think about the other characters since each chapter piques your curiosity, and some include cliff-hangers that make you want to turn the pages even quicker.