Kicking off a new week with an amazing and emotional book…
Twenty-one-year-old Skye Willis lives in Eufaula, Alabama, a tourist mecca of stately homes and world-class bass fishing. Her childhood friends are either stuck at dead ends or have moved on to accomplish Big Things.
Skye’s grandmother, Verna, insists on being called “Sparrow” because she suspects her ancestors were Muscogee Creek. She dresses in faux deerskin and experiments with ancient Native American recipes, offering a myth or legend to anyone who will listen.
Skye has no idea what to do with her life. She’s smart as hell, but she has no faith or knowledge there’s something out there she was “born to do.” Nor does she know much of anything about her father, who died in Afghanistan when she was a toddler. He and his family are a mystery her mother won’t discuss. But when Sparrow sets out to confirm her Creek ancestry through genetic testing, Skye joins in.
The results hit like a DNA bomb, launching them both on a path filled with surprises and life-changing events. Skye learns a harder truth than she ever expected.
Alternating chapters between Skye’s Alabama life and an intertwining tale of greed, deceit, and control in Texas, this story offers proof that all life is a woven tapestry of past, present, and future.
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There is so much to talk about with this book and I can tell you from the outset that I am not going to do it justice, it’s just that good and my words feel inadequate.
From the description I expected a book about self-discovery but what I got was so much more than that, a side of American history that I had never heard before, a tale of deceit and manipulation and a beautiful exploration of different relationships. I honestly was transfixed with this book as soon as I started reading, it just has a way of drawing you in with writing that easily transports you into its Southern atmosphere.
The story is split between Skye’s life with her mother and grandmother and the Darling’s whose company is trying to build an oil pipeline close to Native American lands and is meeting some resistance. I really liked having the dual storylines, you know they are going to intercept at some point, but I liked that I was kept guessing as the story unfolds and I also quite liked the difference in tone that each of the sections had. I felt like the sections with Skye and her family were very rich and unhurried, it was about making a connection with the characters and really getting to know their dynamics, whereas with the Darling’s it was all treachery and manipulation and the world of big business, I thought the contrast worked really well.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters in this book, especially Sparrow, I loved her passion and determination, I loved her quirkiness and the stories she told, she added an element of fun but also a reverence to the past. I liked that Skye didn’t have her path set out yet and that she knew herself well enough to at least know what she didn’t want out of life, she does go through a journey to find herself and her and manages to stay true to herself through some difficult situations. I loved the relationship between Skye, Lisa and Sparrow, three generations of feisty women who would do anything for each other, it has its ups and downs but I really felt the deep connection between them.
The historical element of the story was fascinating, I know what probably amounts to the bare bones of American history so to get this insight into Native American and African American history was enlightening. As an outsider I thought it was handled really well and I appreciated that the author provided a note detailing the historical accuracy and her decisions when taking creative license, I definitely want to find out more about what the author has introduced me to in this book. The intersection between the two cultures in the story and how that related to Skye and her family is brilliant, and I like that it is a recurring thing, and becomes celebrated and a source of passion for Skye.
I got very emotional at several points throughout this book, it would have been hard not to because I felt so invested. It is a book that I would highly recommend, a beautiful and moving story with amazing character dynamics and settings that leap off the page.
Beth Duke is the recipient of short story awards on two continents and is eyeing the other five.
She lives in the mountains of her native Alabama with her husband, one real dog, one ornamental dog, and a flock of fluffy pet chickens.
She loves reading, writing, and not arithmetic.
Baking is a hobby, with semi-pro cupcakes and amateur macarons a specialty.
And puns—the worse, the better.
Travel is her other favorite thing, along with joining book clubs for discussion.
Please invite her to London…England or Kentucky, either is fine. Anywhere!
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