-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.Read more...
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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.
Tim Tingle, responding to a scarcity of Choctaw literature, began interviewing tribal elders in the early '90s. His collection Walking the Choctaw Road was the Oklahoma Book of the Year. Tingle's children's book, Crossing Bok Chitto, garnered over twenty state and national awards, including Best Children's Book from the American Indian Library Association, and was an Editor's Choice in the New York Times Book Review.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-11-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Tingle’s (Walking the Chocktaw Road) novel is set near the end of the 19th century in Skullyville, Okla., a small community of Choctaw Indians. Rose lives with her parents; her brother, Jamey; her grandfather, Amafo; and her grandmother, Pokoni. Reverend Willis has several sons and a daughter, Roberta Jean. One day Amafo takes Rose to the nearby town of Spiro, where they encounter the local marshal, Hardwicke, who is a drunk and a bully. Hardwicke attacks Amafo with a board, shattering the right lens of his glasses. The reaction to this attack, which involves a great deal of courage among a great many people, provides the impetus for the rest of the book. There is plenty of warmth and sincerity here, and a good (though repetitive) story to boot, but much of the dialogue and exposition feels more appropriate for young adult literature (Tingle himself is also a children’s author), and the novel might appeal most to teenagers. (Jan.)