192 pages (Paperback)
Cinco Puntos Press
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"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. Skullyville, a once-thriving Choctaw community, was destroyed by land-grabbers, culminating in the arson on New Year's Eve, 1896, of New Hope Academy for Girls. Twenty Choctaw girls died, but Rose escaped. She is blessed by the presence of her grandmother Pokoni and her grandfather Amafo, both respected elders who understand the old ways. Soon after the fire, the white sheriff beats Amafo in front of the town's people, humiliating him. Instead of asking the Choctaw community to avenge the beating, her grandfather decides to follow the path of forgiveness. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. Tim Tingle—a scholar of his nation's language, culture, and spirituality—tells Rose's story of good and evil with understanding and even laugh-out-loud Choctaw humor.
I was given House of Purple Cedar by my librarian, who asked if I would review the book for him, being that it had just arrived new to our library. Once I obtained the book I looked up reviews done by other to gauge if I would like the book. All the reviews I found rated the book highly and it seemed like it would be a page turner. It turned out to not be.
In my own personal opinion, I did not enjoy House of Purple Cedar and find the ratings to be off. When I first started reading the book I thought it was interesting, for about the first chapter. Afterwards, the chapters dragged on, not really coming to a point. Many of the stories told in the book, which contributed to the whole story, could have been smaller, which would help make the story a faster read.
The book itself is to highlight the horrible discrimination PoC go through, especially Native Americans. The Choctaw people, in their small Oklahoma town, had to deal with a lot of discrimination towards Native Americans as a whole being. I am all for equal treatment for everyone, and there should be more books written about it, but there could have been a more interest sparking way to write the book.
This is just my personal opinion on the writing and format of house of Purple Cedar, and it's not meant to offend others.
Overall, I give House of Purple Cedar a level 1 hangover out of 5. But an A for effort.
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