From Mississippi to Oklahoma to Washington, follow the loves, loss and legacy of the expanding Powell family as they navigate within an era that refuses to include them. During the late 1800's to early 1900's, can they satisfy the Indian Affairs Commission, who has forced them to prove their right of existence time and time again? Finally, when Congressmen in Washington, D.C. want to know, "Who are you?" can the Powell patriarch answer to anyone's satisfaction?
Idea/Concept: Carroll tells an important family story, driven by a thought-provoking central concept. The blending of authentic history and the necessary fictionalization of conversations and circumstances, results in a compelling, if somewhat awkward, narrative juxtaposition.
Prose: The original documents are useful as supportive evidence, and Carroll provides a meticulously researched history of Choctaw Native Americans. The tone of the book, however, varies significantly between passages detailing historical circumstances and those devoted to narrative storytelling.
Originality: By focusing on her great grandfather's struggles, the author provides a unique personal story. The focus on the topic of proving one's identity as a Native American, is an especially compelling angle, and allows the book to resonate thematically.
Execution: This work is highly unique and frequently engrossing. However, the book struggles to define itself as a work of fiction or true memoir; as a result, the reading experience is somewhat disorienting.
Date Submitted: December 11, 2019
"This work is highly unique and frequently engrossing. The focus on the topic of proving one's identity as a Native American, is an especially compelling angle, and allows the book to resonate thematically. Carroll tells an important family story, driven by a thought-provoking central concept. " The BookLife Prize