Where the Dead Sit Talking

In Where the Dead Sit Talking, Sequoyah is a Cherokee boy struggling in Oklahoma's foster care system. He survives by disengaging from those around him, roaming free at night and making his own way in the world. But there are rules to follow, the threat of being rejected by yet another foster family and the cold reality of his mother's incarceration keeping Sequoyah tethered to the day-to-day confines of his life.

These are hefty topics by any measure, a glimpse of childhood lived on the edge of mainstream society. Brandon Hobson (Deep Elum) undercuts the severity, though, by endowing Sequoyah with a sensitive, innocent voice, and fortifying him with the kindness of strangers as well as the spiritual legacy of his forefathers. Liz, his social worker, and the Trouts, his foster parents, do all they can to help Sequoyah settle into his new home. Most importantly, he meets Rosemary, another foster teen living with the Trouts. They form what Rosemary refers to as a spiritual connection, partly through their shared Native American heritage, but it's far more than that for Sequoyah. Rosemary, fighting her own demons, is the only person he lets enter his heart.

Sequoyah's description of the anxiety he feels when moving into a new foster home is especially poignant, given that most of us take our surroundings and the comforts of home for granted. Hobson's gift to the reader is the hopeful persistence he instills in Sequoyah, despite his challenges with identity and belonging. He is a young man who is clearly scarred but thankfully not defeated. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer

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