The Removed: A Novel

Image of The Removed: A Novel
Release Date: 
February 16, 2021
Reviewed by: 

“This is a timely read for those looking to face life’s darkest truths and learn the lessons our ancestors want us to hear.”

If you’re looking for a powerful read that explores the generational impacts of trauma, The Removed is the book for you.

Brandon Hobson had already made a name for himself with his multiple-award-winning novel, Where the Dead Sit Talking, and once again he has spared no sorrow between the pages of this richly developed examination of the Cherokee people and the long-standing relationship they’ve had with injustice. But the history of Indigenous people is just a small piece of this novel. In The Removed, Hobson creatively braids two key narratives: one, the ancient voice of a long-lost ancestor; two, the modern telling of the Echota family as they gather to remember their teenage son 15 years after he was killed by police officers.

“Beloved, we knew the soldiers were coming before they even arrived. Our people knew long before, thanks to the prophecies. It was a time of fear, but we would never let fear bury us.”

The losses are immeasurable in this family and in this tribe, and Hobson takes us deep into the abyss of the soul-wrenching pain, peeling back the curtain of secrecy to explore the many ways people deal with trauma (some healthy, some not). He doesn’t shield the reader or sugarcoat the harsh realities of grief, especially when the tragedies could have been avoided. In fact, he seems to want the reader to suffer along with this family, which proves to be the power of good storytelling. He helps us build more empathy for others by inviting us to crawl into another person’s skin and walk around in it, to experience life through their lens, to feel their suffering so deep it shakes us. And shapes us.

“Maybe empathy was the beginnings of healing, I remember thinking. Or maybe I was unaware that time had already healed me.”

This story is centered around the annual Cherokee National Holiday, a time of remembrance and recollection. Readers will learn much about the Cherokee traditions, myths, and heritage, while also learning about the challenges many of these families face in modern-day America. Told with interwoven voices, Hobson’s tale will leave readers wiser in many ways, reminding us all of the power of resilience and the importance of equality.

“Beloved, the earth will speak to us when we need to hear the most.”

This is a timely read for those looking to face life’s darkest truths and learn the lessons our ancestors want us to hear.