Where the Dead Sit Talking
A dark, authentically-voiced, lyrical Native American coming of age story set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s. With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy, is placed in foster care with the Troutt family. Literally and figuratively scarred by his unstable upbringing, Sequoyah has spent years mostly keeping to himself, living with his emotions pressed deep below the surface—that is, until he meets the seventeen-year-old Rosemary, another youth staying with the Troutts.Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American backgrounds and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah's feelings toward Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both.

Where the Dead Sit Talking Details

TitleWhere the Dead Sit Talking
Author
ReleaseFeb 20th, 2018
PublisherSoho Press
Rating
GenreFiction, Young Adult, Coming Of Age, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Where the Dead Sit Talking Review

  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Book to be published February 2018 1980's Oklahoma. At times, a rather dark tale, Where the Dead Sit Talking, is not for the faint of heart. Brandon Hobson's teenage character, Sequoyah, has been abandoned by his father, his mother is in prison, and he had been placed in foster care. Drugs, suicide, sexual awakening/identity are just some of the topics covered within these pages. At times, I felt a bit unsure and disturbed by the unsettling thoughts that raged in Sequoyah 's mind. Even as I am n Book to be published February 2018 1980's Oklahoma. At times, a rather dark tale, Where the Dead Sit Talking, is not for the faint of heart. Brandon Hobson's teenage character, Sequoyah, has been abandoned by his father, his mother is in prison, and he had been placed in foster care. Drugs, suicide, sexual awakening/identity are just some of the topics covered within these pages. At times, I felt a bit unsure and disturbed by the unsettling thoughts that raged in Sequoyah 's mind. Even as I am now finished the story, I have this sickening feeling in my stomach. For now, I shall give it a 3 because this book had great characters and strong writing, but I don't feel that I personally enjoyed it. Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lark Benobi
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is simply told, but it isn't a simple story on any level. It's a devastating chronicle of a young person growing up in desperate circumstances. It's an indictment of a social system in which children have no chance to escape poverty and neglect. It's a story of what survival looks like when there is no chance of a happy ending.The story is narrated by Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy whose single mother is in jail. He seems resilient at first. He describes his peripheral rela This novel is simply told, but it isn't a simple story on any level. It's a devastating chronicle of a young person growing up in desperate circumstances. It's an indictment of a social system in which children have no chance to escape poverty and neglect. It's a story of what survival looks like when there is no chance of a happy ending.The story is narrated by Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy whose single mother is in jail. He seems resilient at first. He describes his peripheral relationships with caregiving agencies, and reports his conversations with those adults in social work and foster care who take some responsibility for him, but in actuality he spends almost all of his time alone, and in desperate and dangerous circumstances. It only gradually dawned on me as I read that Hobson is using simple diction and this almost easy-going narrative style to lure me into a very dark story of emotional torment and neglect. The tone isn't really easy-going at all: It's affectless, an expression of a detachment that comes from mental turmoil. As the story progresses it becomes clear that Sequoyah's neglect and social isolation have left him unable to interpret relationships, or to recognize danger, or to understand or control his own emotional impulses. The story allows you to enter into the life of a person for whom every hope for a better future has been blocked by the neglect and lack of attentive love. To write such a story calls for attention and empathy and I'm very glad Hobson had the courage to write something so true.
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  • Vivek Tejuja
    January 1, 1970
    Coming of age stories are always appealing to me. Somewhere or the other, they spring up and I read them and get all nostalgic about growing-up too soon or growing-up and not realizing that it happened. “Where the Dead Sit Talking” is one such book. Also, might I add here that coming-of-age stories could also take place at a time when you are also an adult, however, this one is set on the brink of adolescence and is illuminating and intensely psychological at the same time.“Where the Dead Sit Ta Coming of age stories are always appealing to me. Somewhere or the other, they spring up and I read them and get all nostalgic about growing-up too soon or growing-up and not realizing that it happened. “Where the Dead Sit Talking” is one such book. Also, might I add here that coming-of-age stories could also take place at a time when you are also an adult, however, this one is set on the brink of adolescence and is illuminating and intensely psychological at the same time.“Where the Dead Sit Talking” is not a regular coming of age book. It is raw, jagged at the edges and tackles some major issues such as child abuse, abandonment, alcoholism and neglect without any pretense. Also, to some extent it draws on the flaws of the American foster care system (I’ve always wondered how efficient that is, but I guess there is another book for that at another time).The book is set in the late ‘80’s, Sequoyah a fifteen-year-old, is the narrator of the book. He has moved from one foster home to another (his mother is serving jail time), till he seems to settle with this one family in Little Crow and that’s where the story begins. He forms an instant connection with one of the other foster children there – Rosemary and that forms the crux of the book.The thing about this book is that it doesn’t sugar coat brutality. It is there for all to read and experience, no matter if you are cringing or don’t want to turn another page (which you wouldn’t want to, because this book is that good), read you must.Hobson’s characters are so flawed and waiting for redemption so long, that you start hoping for them. Brandon’s prose is simple and yet striking, it is layered and easy to read, which to me are fantastic about very few books. Also, the Native-American narrative is so needed (was always needed) and comes out powerfully in the book. At the heart of it though, “Where the Dead Sit Talking” is about humans – battered, lonely, the ones who do things and then regret and sometimes there is no regret as well. It is a book waiting to share its secrets with you, it is more than just a coming-of-age book – the one that will move and haunt you in equal measure.
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  • Tobias
    January 1, 1970
    Understated and incredibly powerful.
  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    Hobson has a fresh way of viewing the world and in this instance through the eyes of a teenage foster child, Sequoyah, who has just joined his latest family. He becomes enamoured of an older resident in his new home who also is Native American and they bound in a heartwarming yet also twisted kind of way...kind of how many teenage relationships are formed. Though their foster parents are odd as well they’re not bad people and seem sincerely trying to care for the three kids, which includes a pre Hobson has a fresh way of viewing the world and in this instance through the eyes of a teenage foster child, Sequoyah, who has just joined his latest family. He becomes enamoured of an older resident in his new home who also is Native American and they bound in a heartwarming yet also twisted kind of way...kind of how many teenage relationships are formed. Though their foster parents are odd as well they’re not bad people and seem sincerely trying to care for the three kids, which includes a preteen genius wanna be boy, they’ve been given.Hobson explores imperfection that’s coupled with good intentions and uniqueness that can be great though painful for the individuals. He also looks at choices within constrained environments. Sequoyah and his thrown together family seem always to be one bad choice away from catastrophe which makes the book compelling but the characters, especially Sequoyah, are equally interesting because they’re so likable despite or partly because of their weaknesses.Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance reader’s copy.4.5/5 stars
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  • David Tromblay
    January 1, 1970
    Hobson does an amazing job of immersing readers into a hauntingly familiar reality for far too many teens through the retrospective treatment of an adult who survived it all (something that is wholeheartedly needed and long overdue). This story is filled with fantastical asides that busy the minds of teens as well as the most entertaining adults. However, if you pay attention, you'll see Hobson doesn't simply do this to fill pages, he is a craftsman who knows how to build a scaffolded narrative Hobson does an amazing job of immersing readers into a hauntingly familiar reality for far too many teens through the retrospective treatment of an adult who survived it all (something that is wholeheartedly needed and long overdue). This story is filled with fantastical asides that busy the minds of teens as well as the most entertaining adults. However, if you pay attention, you'll see Hobson doesn't simply do this to fill pages, he is a craftsman who knows how to build a scaffolded narrative sure to keep the reader turning to the next page--over and again. The payoff is as unexpected as the twists and turns the narrator leads readers through. Buy this book today.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Where the Dead Sit Talking is a painful read, a book filled with profound suffering, beautifully told. Sequoyah’s life is filled with anguish: a mother incapable of looking after him, a foster sister kindred soul who feels she must end her life. Brandon Hobson’s poetic style enables the reader to care deeply about his characters. In spite of the multi-layered story being told by an unreliable narrator, it remains gripping throughout. A triumph!
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  • Benjamin Myers
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wonderfully written story that kept me up late, unwilling to put the book down. The narrator's voice is perfect. The story manages somehow to be simultaneously tender and ominous. The characters are compelling and believable.
  • Wyatt
    January 1, 1970
    Haunting, beautifully written novel that crept under my skin and still won't let go. Sequoyah is a compelling narrator, by turns terse and lyrical, sympathetic and difficult. Hobson's vision is compassionate and all-embracing, which means embracing darkness as much as light.
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  • Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    Where the Dead Sit Talking explores the difficult coming-of-age of Sequoyah, a teenage boy of Cherokee heritage thrust into the U.S. foster care system after his mother’s imprisonment. Hobson brings to light key issues such as racism, mental health, child welfare, and corruption through Sequoyah’s twisted perspective. Adult figures are portrayed as untrustworthy, and even adults in support roles, such as Sequoyah’s foster parents and case worker, are displayed as well-meaning yet flawed. One of Where the Dead Sit Talking explores the difficult coming-of-age of Sequoyah, a teenage boy of Cherokee heritage thrust into the U.S. foster care system after his mother’s imprisonment. Hobson brings to light key issues such as racism, mental health, child welfare, and corruption through Sequoyah’s twisted perspective. Adult figures are portrayed as untrustworthy, and even adults in support roles, such as Sequoyah’s foster parents and case worker, are displayed as well-meaning yet flawed. One of the primary focuses of the novel is Sequoyah’s obsessive relationship with Rosemary, a 17-year-old Kiowa girl living in his foster home. Sequoyah’s platonic and at times disturbing relationship with Rosemary exhibits their shared background and experiences. The novel maintains a brooding, troubled tone throughout, reflecting Sequoyah’s turmoil as he navigates his unstable upbringing. This is a dark read that goes far beyond the conventional coming-of-age tale.
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  • Tara
    January 1, 1970
    Part of a new wave of Native American writers, Brandon Hobson tells the story of Sequoyah, a teenage boy (named after the man who created the Cherokee written language.) After his alcoholic mother is sent to jail, Sequoyah becomes enmeshed in the care system. After being sent to a foster home in rural Oklahoma, it seems things are looking up. But his friendship with Rosemary, another Indian foster child, turns into obsession. On the face of it, 'Where the Dead Sit Talking' is a coming-of-age nov Part of a new wave of Native American writers, Brandon Hobson tells the story of Sequoyah, a teenage boy (named after the man who created the Cherokee written language.) After his alcoholic mother is sent to jail, Sequoyah becomes enmeshed in the care system. After being sent to a foster home in rural Oklahoma, it seems things are looking up. But his friendship with Rosemary, another Indian foster child, turns into obsession. On the face of it, 'Where the Dead Sit Talking' is a coming-of-age novel but it quickly becomes more troubling. The characters are multi-faceted, exuding both darkness and light. As Sequoyah becomes immersed in twisted fantasies, the failure of his caregivers to meet his spiritual needs becomes painfully clear. There are also beautiful meditations on nature in what transpires to be a kind of modern folk horror, with echoes of the 'Satanic panic' era.
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  • Isabelle
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED Where the Dead Sit Talking. Probably the best book I've read this year. It is a very suspenseful, sad, and strange novel about Sequoyah, a Cherokee boy in foster care. A dark story, I found Sequoyah's character sad as she's shuffled around from shelter to foster home. There is something deeper and darker going on with him. He tells from the start that Rosemary, the foster sister, has died, and part of her draw to Sequoyah is that he wants to be her. He struggles with his identity, feelin I LOVED Where the Dead Sit Talking. Probably the best book I've read this year. It is a very suspenseful, sad, and strange novel about Sequoyah, a Cherokee boy in foster care. A dark story, I found Sequoyah's character sad as she's shuffled around from shelter to foster home. There is something deeper and darker going on with him. He tells from the start that Rosemary, the foster sister, has died, and part of her draw to Sequoyah is that he wants to be her. He struggles with his identity, feelings, and loneliness. I highly recommend this novel.
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  • River
    January 1, 1970
    Just finished reading 'Where the Dead Sit Talking.' What an astonishing book. Beautiful and brutal, you balance intense subject matter with compassion and subtlety. Sequoyah is a fantastic narrator - unreliable, compelling, conflicted and sympathetic. Blew me away.
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  • David Leo
    January 1, 1970
    Tender, moving, creepy -- an all-around great coming-of-age novel combined with a philosophical investigation into the nature of death and identity.
  • Brichimt
    January 1, 1970
    In reading through the responses to Where the Dead Sit Talking, it is not surprising that some who read this are sickened by the brutality that Youth of Color who are members of First Nations have been exposed to in the Oklahoma State foster care system. The racist and callous treatment is a societal trait encountered by many and what I call abominable. Look at the treatment of Oklahoma teachers who are striking for a living wage so they can pay for their rent or mortgage. The legislature saw a In reading through the responses to Where the Dead Sit Talking, it is not surprising that some who read this are sickened by the brutality that Youth of Color who are members of First Nations have been exposed to in the Oklahoma State foster care system. The racist and callous treatment is a societal trait encountered by many and what I call abominable. Look at the treatment of Oklahoma teachers who are striking for a living wage so they can pay for their rent or mortgage. The legislature saw a need to give themselves a living raise for their own wages and benefits but not teachers for over 10 years. The citizens are not bothered with paying for the legislators' bill raise but think the teachers with masters should stoop to taking on 2 additional outside jobs to make ends meet.Another author from Oklahoma speaks of these issues, Alton Carter, in his biography The Boy Who Carried Bricks. He is black American and was in foster care in the state from age 11 to 18. He ran away from close to 28 different homes before his 12th-grade year. He almost ran from this last of 28 foster families, but he would have delayed his HS graduation and no one in his family for the 3 generations he knew, had ever graduated from high school. So he had to put up with the family dog which they named "n!qq3r". Can you imagine living as a foster-person of color in a foster-home that was approved by a state that had a relaxed foster care policy so much so that the family dog's name was "n-word?" I find it insane. That was the Oklahoma of Brandon Hobson's book, a state that historically burnt a functioning all-black segregated section of Tulsa to. the. ground. hanging and burning residents because a white female cried the trope-call of rape. to the void of retribution by authorities as a result. The dysfunctional situations Syquoyah was in with Harold Trout was no different, for Trout was a foster-care parent and a bookie and his family were known bootleggers. So, this was an inadequate condition that yet another own-voice author has echoed the lack of concern and responsibility shown by the state of Oklahoma in its foster care towards their most vulnerable populations of foster children. Because of Alton Carter's memoir, changes began to occur. This is Alton's blog that addresses how his book became a change element in the foster care system. Author Alton Carter and Oklahoma State Foster Care Advocacy Personnel "The Boy Who Carried Bricks", Shares His Story of Foster Care It wasn't until 2017 that the Cherokee announced a new policy to acquire more personnel to monitor youth who are members of the Nation placed in the now certified Cherokee Nation homes2017 News Story on Cherokee Nation's New Foster Care PolicyWith First Nations in Oklahoma, as everywhere with marginalized and underrepresented, none of their cultures are viewed as relevant by the dominant society. And what is specific for First Nations is the land they know history says is their birthright is not acknowledged by this same dominant culture as theirs'. They are made to feel insignificant and unwanted in a land they are Indigenous to, and even when an agreement is arrived at, it has ALWAYS been broken. This deliverable has created a case of mistrust and low and destructive self-esteem which can lead to the addictive habits and dependency observed in Sequoyah's mother who eventually loses so many jobs she no longer can find any legit ones and therefore turns to illegal drug trade which lands her in jail on the extreme interpretations of the law for drug sales during the 80s when the booking is set. With Sequoyah growing up in such an environment which resulted in his mother's long-term arrest, it should not be surprising that he is surrounded by adults who used to be youth who are just as fragile if not more fragile than he is. It should be of no surprise that the youth he is assigned to live with, in the group home, are emerged in subversive behavior, resulting in so many of them trying to self-medicate through drugs, sex, and alternative spiritual trists that are not in alignment with healthy development; and that these efforts lead them eventually towards a meltdown that can be fatal for some.Although at times this realistic fiction becomes psychological, if not downright macabre when the reader is introduced to the physical, mental and emotional conditionals members of Sequoyah's community live under and struggle to survive through. Hobson's title represents an own-voice cultural group that has often been silenced but is finally given a chance to be heard. A silenced voice that's given a platform to speak can often come out kicking. I say let it come. Let it kick.
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  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    A fast read--well-written--but wow, unsettling. Not sure what to make of it. I don't read much horror, but this feels on the edge of gothic; the fascination with and killing-off of the Native woman is also super disturbing. Moving representation of damaged kids in foster care (while also giving them agency), and overridden by loneliness and isolation. Would be interesting to discuss in a book group.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Powerful, chilling writing!
  • Allie
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant, dark, atmospheric. Like Shirley Jackson and Ottessa Moshfegh. Hobson takes us through the mind of a troubled and damaged youth that eventually leads to the tragedy we know will happen. Highly recommended!!!
  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    review to come
  • Ankita Rathour
    January 1, 1970
    Brandon Hobson's coming of age fiction reminds you of Arun Joshi's 'The Foreigner'. As dark as it gets, it continuously questions and navigates the depths of fact and fiction in life. The most striking feature of Hobson's writing is his acute attention to detail and his brilliancy in bringing out the native in 'American'. The characters are well penned and scenes are crafted extremely well. One example of a brilliant scene is when Sequoyah goes with Jack to his place. Without spilling out the de Brandon Hobson's coming of age fiction reminds you of Arun Joshi's 'The Foreigner'. As dark as it gets, it continuously questions and navigates the depths of fact and fiction in life. The most striking feature of Hobson's writing is his acute attention to detail and his brilliancy in bringing out the native in 'American'. The characters are well penned and scenes are crafted extremely well. One example of a brilliant scene is when Sequoyah goes with Jack to his place. Without spilling out the details, the scene is one of the best in terms of tension in a claustrophobic setting. WTDST is a quick yet detailed read. There is a lot going on and it is heavy with local references which adds to its overall appeal. Before ending it, I was intrigued by the name 'Sequoyah' and so I googled it. It turns out that Sequoyah was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. This was one of the very few times in recorded history that a member of a pre-literate people created an original, effective writing system[1][4] (another example being Shong Lue Yang). After seeing its worth, the people of the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825. Their literacy rate quickly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers. Wiki also says 'The New Georgia Encyclopedia presents another version of Sequoyah's origins, from the 1971 book, Tell Them They Lie: The Sequoyah Myth, by Traveller Bird, who claims to be a Sequoyah descendant. Bird says that Sequoyah was a full-blood Cherokee who always opposed the submission and assimilation of his people into the white man's culture.'Read the book and you will see how this information connects well with everything. A must read!
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s, we are introduced to Sequoyah, a fifteen year old boy, of Cherokee heritage. He has been placed into the foster care system, after his mother's imprisonment. He is a troubled, unstable kid, who can't seem to fit in, but he is eventually sent to live with the Troutt family. A kind couple that have taken foster kids in for many years. There is also a seventeen year old girl living here, also of Native American extraction and they begin to form a bond. This Set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s, we are introduced to Sequoyah, a fifteen year old boy, of Cherokee heritage. He has been placed into the foster care system, after his mother's imprisonment. He is a troubled, unstable kid, who can't seem to fit in, but he is eventually sent to live with the Troutt family. A kind couple that have taken foster kids in for many years. There is also a seventeen year old girl living here, also of Native American extraction and they begin to form a bond. This is an unsettling read, as it deals with drugs, bullying and suicide, as these kids try to navigate forward, with the scars of the past, nipping at their heels. This is a pretty good read, by a solid writer, but I was hoping for a moment, when the story would really take off and deliver on a higher level. It never quite reached those heights. I recently read Don't Skip Out on Me, also about a young Native American man, in similar circumstances, but that one, ended up more satisfying.*I read this as a Edelweiss galley. It was released in February.
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  • David Agranoff
    January 1, 1970
    This is a dark and subtle book, that really tugs at your heart strings. I thought this was a very well written book that appreciate despite it not really being my thing. I picked it up at the library because I remembered Duncan Barlow talking about it and I respect his opinion. So that reminds me, keep talking about books on social media people it helps authors. More importantly it gets people talking about reading and the joy of reading. This novel is the story of Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old C This is a dark and subtle book, that really tugs at your heart strings. I thought this was a very well written book that appreciate despite it not really being my thing. I picked it up at the library because I remembered Duncan Barlow talking about it and I respect his opinion. So that reminds me, keep talking about books on social media people it helps authors. More importantly it gets people talking about reading and the joy of reading. This novel is the story of Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy who travels through the circles of hell in the foster care system after his mother is thrown in jail. We are with him when he ends up at new schools, and new homes. A great deal of the novel centers on the relationships that Sequoyah makes and how they effect his life. Brandon Hobson is a writer I have not read before so I don't know how this novel matches his overall style but the first thing I noticed was the slow-burn and detailed style of the prose. Sequoyah doesn't have a charmed life and this novel feels at times like we are being given a window into moments we shouldn't see. He is a character I had never seen or read before, so I was interested through out to see how he navigated this world. I wanted to help this character out and sometimes the narrative gives the reader a helpless feeling. It is a coming of age novel, but not in a typical by the numbers way. It doesn't tick off plot points. Sequoyah doesn't come of age into a better situation but his scars and pain are kind of the point. A powerful debut
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  • Paltia
    January 1, 1970
    A stunning book. It was almost dreamlike. Any story of a motherless child can be gut wrenching and this was no exception. Sequoyah is a wonderfully complex young person. When he suffers, and he does suffer, the reader suffers with him. In his search to find his identity he is pulled, almost apart, in different directions. His interior moral compass manages to keep him safe in his search. He knows when to go and when to stay. An intimate portrait of a lonely soul that rocked me to the core. A tal A stunning book. It was almost dreamlike. Any story of a motherless child can be gut wrenching and this was no exception. Sequoyah is a wonderfully complex young person. When he suffers, and he does suffer, the reader suffers with him. In his search to find his identity he is pulled, almost apart, in different directions. His interior moral compass manages to keep him safe in his search. He knows when to go and when to stay. An intimate portrait of a lonely soul that rocked me to the core. A tale of survival.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    There are many reasons why I love this story. The coming-of-age genre is one that I like and I consider Hobson a master of it in this story through each of the three young people (each a foster care youth), especially Sequoyah, a Native American teenager grappling with hope, loss, discovery, and disappointments. While I found myself enjoying the easy pace of the narrative, I likewise experienced moments of when I was not reading the book and thinking about Sequoyah and his self-discovery. It’s t There are many reasons why I love this story. The coming-of-age genre is one that I like and I consider Hobson a master of it in this story through each of the three young people (each a foster care youth), especially Sequoyah, a Native American teenager grappling with hope, loss, discovery, and disappointments. While I found myself enjoying the easy pace of the narrative, I likewise experienced moments of when I was not reading the book and thinking about Sequoyah and his self-discovery. It’s through these moments of reflection that the book all the more comes alive and the depth and realness of the characters become both haunting and beautiful. I treated myself to reading the final two chapters outside and in a local park, as I knew that sitting within nature and just “being” with the final closure of the story was going to be the peaceful experience that it was. Two-thumbs up for Hobson’s skill in creating a simple and yet complex story that stays with you well after its ending. As a foster father myself, I know many a teenage boy living in foster care will find this story as one resonating with their feelings.
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  • Ron S
    January 1, 1970
    While there'd be nothing technically wrong with saying this book is "a spare, lyrical Native American coming of age story set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s" that's a bit too tidy and easy a description for this book. Going to live with a new foster family, 15 year old Sequoyah is scarred inside and out and feels sick most of the time with head and stomach aches. He has a lot of weird thoughts and behaviours he doesn't understand, and becomes obsessed with 17 year old Rosemary, another fost While there'd be nothing technically wrong with saying this book is "a spare, lyrical Native American coming of age story set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s" that's a bit too tidy and easy a description for this book. Going to live with a new foster family, 15 year old Sequoyah is scarred inside and out and feels sick most of the time with head and stomach aches. He has a lot of weird thoughts and behaviours he doesn't understand, and becomes obsessed with 17 year old Rosemary, another foster kid in his new home. The general tone of the book is dark and messed up, even when everything is going along basically OK. Hobson does a great job of portraying the confusion and uncertainty of being a teenager -- a near universal condition, amped up in this case by the added suffering of having an alcoholic single mom and bouncing around through state detention centres and the foster care system. There's no heart-warming happy ending, no ultimate triumph of the human will, just coping mechanisms and waiting to see what happens next. Unusual literary fiction (I mean that as a compliment) that doesn't always take the usual route, from a Pushcart Prize winner and author of Deep Ellum, The Levitationist, and Desolation of Avenues Untold.
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  • kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Set in late 1980's rural Oklahoma, "Where the Dead Sit Talking" is the sad, dark tale of a 15-year-old Native American teenager named Sequoyah, sent to live with a foster family after his mother's imprisonment. From the outset of the novel, it is evident that Sequoyah carries many emotional scars, having dealt with his mother's alcoholism and abuse in previous detention settings. Harold and Agnes Troutt are also the foster parents of two other children: George, a younger, also emotionally damage Set in late 1980's rural Oklahoma, "Where the Dead Sit Talking" is the sad, dark tale of a 15-year-old Native American teenager named Sequoyah, sent to live with a foster family after his mother's imprisonment. From the outset of the novel, it is evident that Sequoyah carries many emotional scars, having dealt with his mother's alcoholism and abuse in previous detention settings. Harold and Agnes Troutt are also the foster parents of two other children: George, a younger, also emotionally damaged boy (his behavior strongly suggests that he's possibly on the autism spectrum), and Rosemary, an older Native American girl with whom Sequoyah becomes obsessed. They bond over their shared heritage (he is Cherokee, she is Kiowa), smoking cigarettes in her bedroom at night and sharing their deepest secrets with each other. Their relationship is equal parts platonic and disturbing, with Sequoyah's violent fantasies and obsessive thoughts of Rosemary taking up much of the novel.This book has a very dark, brooding tone all throughout. There is no happy ending or 'triumph' by the main character. What is here is an unsettling silence at the heart of the events that lets you know that even though everything seems ok, it is apparent that it isn't. Despite the Troutts kindness and "good" intentions, they are powerless to stop the human catastrophe that simmers beneath the surface of their home. I think the author does a great job of depicting how even the most well-intentioned acts of goodness can be misdirected and to the complete detriment of the individual. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Diane Payne
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't expect to enjoy this novel as much as I did, mainly because the blurbs gave away so much info. The dynamics between the three foster children were quite intriguing. I wish we knew a bit more about the foster mother because she had a rather vital role in this saga. Without giving too much away, even though the novel immediately warns us who will be dying, I felt the death was rather abrupt, considering how much of the novel (and the title) focus on death. I wonder what would have happene I didn't expect to enjoy this novel as much as I did, mainly because the blurbs gave away so much info. The dynamics between the three foster children were quite intriguing. I wish we knew a bit more about the foster mother because she had a rather vital role in this saga. Without giving too much away, even though the novel immediately warns us who will be dying, I felt the death was rather abrupt, considering how much of the novel (and the title) focus on death. I wonder what would have happened had that person not died. Or, if the novel didn't end so soon after the death. Maybe it was the perfect ending, the kind of ending that leaves readers wondering, pondering, imagining...
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I was so excited to read it because of my shared Native American heritage with the MC and the author, but I was honestly disappointed. It felt like there were random thoughts and events just thrown in that really didn't add to the story, but were shocking. I almost bailed a few times, but I kept hoping it would tie together in the end, but unfortunately it didn't. I see really high ratings on this book, so maybe it's just me and I hope others enjoy it more than me.
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  • Rick
    January 1, 1970
    Darkly intense and insightful, read in one session.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read (but kind of dark) about a Native American teenager in the foster care system.
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